Trains, Planes and Fat People

He wasn’t even fat.  He was, however, invading my “personal space.”  A man with slightly wider than average hips sitting next to me on the train yesterday during my morning commute, who didn’t understand the rules about boundaries.  Stop fidgeting, widgeting, and driving me nuts.  What to do when faced with this reckless commuter behavior?  I tend not to assert myself.  Instead I resort to the “turtle response” – I put my book away (after all, I have no room left to even marginally hold open the pages), and I close my eyes and take a nap.  Except that I don’t nap.  I become privately enraged that the idiot next to me has ruined my 35 minutes of protected nirvana.  My reading time; my reflecting time; my “let me plan a party” or “develop a new recipe” time.  And mind you, he wasn’t even fat – just blissfully ignorant that he was ruining my morning with his hyperactive antics and lack of self-awareness.  Now, yesterday I went on to Southwest Airlines’ website to see how they treat the issue of overweight people and the purchase of more than one ticket.  I read their entire policy.  I thought it was written with as much sensitivity as could be mustered given that it had to be written in “legal language.”  Basically what Southwest said was that it was protecting the rights of all of its passengers, and that the purchase of a ticket entitled one to the full 17 inches of seat between the armrests that they had purchased.  All kinds of scenarios were played out in a Q & A on the site, and the bottom line (pun intended) was that you are entitled to travel without being encumbered by the excessive epidermal baggage of your fellow passenger.  You should be able to BREATHE.  Your face should not be smashed against the airplane window seeking the last vestiges of air available in the cabin.  In other words, you should be able to sit comfortably and not feel squashed (although, let’s face it folks, who doesn’t feel squashed on an airplane, unless you’re in first class). 

I am not a reed thin supermodel, but I am acutely aware of my surroundings, especially during my morning commute.   Perhaps some rules would help.  Here are a few:

Rule No. 1:   Take up only your 1/2 of the seat – if you can’t do that, then stand and don’t screw up my morning.

Rule No. 2:  Don’t fidget and fuss the entire ride.  Assume the “position” and keep still.  If you are still facing an ADD/ADHD crisis, see a doctor. 

Rule No. 3:  Don’t talk on your cell phone for the entire commute.  Make a quick call if you must, keep it brief, and realize that no matter how low you keep your voice the entire train knows what you’ve been discussing.

Personal Note to Self:  Realize that these commuter infractions are temporary minor glitches in the game of life, and that once I get home I can stretch out and truly enjoy myself.

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3 Responses to Trains, Planes and Fat People

  1. Julie Seavy says:

    Reminds me of the time I flew from PIT to PHI and was in the last row, next to a man who was larger than life. I’m claustrophobic and nearly passed out from last of space and air. He caught the drift of what I was going through and apologized, then as soon as the plane landed, got up so I could get space in the aisle.

    • Mary Pontius says:


      LOVE IT and keep it up!! Yes, we have all been there. The simple actions of others can really suck the life out of the simple pleasures of your/a day! And now I must get up and shut my window on this lovely day as I realize that the stale stink that I smell is drifting over from my stinky guy neighbor next door.



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