For as long as I can remember I’ve always noticed that I’m usually one of the last people to have someone sit next to me on a bus, airplane, train, or at some kind of event. I have good hygiene so I know it’s not that. It could be my looks because I’m no Tom Cruise. I’m convinced it’s because of my weight. I’ve gotten used to it over time but yesterday, on my flight from Jacksonville to Dallas, I was brutally reminded of it.
When I boarded my flight in Jacksonville I was literally the last person to get on the plane. I was flying Southwest and in boarding group C. Not cool but there’s not much I could do about it. I patiently waited my turn knowing that seating would be limited once I got on. I’m not someone who has to sit near the front so I moved towards the rear of the plane. I found a row where only one guy was sitting (on the aisle) and asked to slide in to the window seat (my favorite). I got settled in and we had the seat between us empty. He was a big guy too but bigger than me. I didn’t think much about it and settled into reading a book.
We stopped in Houston and most of the folks got off. There were maybe five of us left on the plane because it was continuing onto Dallas. I was hoping there wouldn’t be many people get on since I don’t like crowded planes. We were 20 minutes early to Houston so I had a few minutes to get up, stretch and use the restroom. I sat back down in my window seat as folks started to get on.
One of the first ten people to get on was a large guy. He was bigger than the guy that sat on my row from Jacksonville to Houston. With an entire plane to choose from this guy comes and sits on my row on the aisle seat. At first I was pissed because he had the entire plane to choose from and sat on my row. Then it dawned on me why he sat where he did. Then I was embarrassed.
The reason the guy sat where he did was because I was a big guy too. He did it knowing that nobody would want to sit in-between two large guys on a plane. He was right. As the plane got more crowded the seats started to fill up. A couple people looked at the seat between us and quietly moved on. After a while an announcement was made that it would be a full flight with only two empty seats. Great I said to myself. I put my nose in my book hoping to avoid eye contact with folks looking for a seat. Eventually it happened. Somebody needed a seat. Thankfully it was a nice looking guy who has had the self-control in his life to keep himself thin and athletic.
In no way due I fit the airlines description of being an obese passenger. I’m big but fit in my own seat, don’t need a seat belt extension, and have no problems with putting the seat tray down. Still, I’m broad shouldered, large in the middle, and take up some real estate. Do I harbor any bad feelings towards the big guy sitting where he did? No. I just feel embarrassed for myself and what I’ve allowed myself to become.
Has this made an impact on me? Absolutely. I don’t know when I’ll fly again but I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I don’t feel embarrassed like that again.
If you have similar stories I’d like to hear them. If you’re uncomfortable sharing them I understand.