The Perils of Travel


by Mike Murphy on December 23, 2015

Traveling this holiday? On a plane? Lucky you. Here's a story from my trip last week.

We've all been there, especially if you're in sales. Packed in like a sardine, right next to the dreaded, shall we say, "unpleasant" passenger. I'm 6'4", 245 lbs., and have a window seat on an MD88. I've got no place to go and am just trying to survive a two-hour flight next to this person who immediately showed the proverbial chip on their shoulder to be the size of the state we're departing, Texas. I'll call them "Seatmate." I've got two hours with this rather unpleasant person, who, mind you, is maybe 5'4".  I've been seated next to many people my size and somehow gotten along with them just fine. But oh no, not this bugger.

Once I get settled in, the first comment from Seatmate is "they don't make these planes for people your size." My response was, of course, "I couldn't agree more." Seatmate then says, "I once had to sit between two 350-pound people who were flowing over their seats and I just refused to sit there! I paid for a comfortable flight and I expected it." If you'll recall my height and weight, you'll note there is no overflowing here. Yet, I knew I was in trouble. 


We taxi, and Seatmate, in a nasty tone, asks that I rearrange my laptop bag to make room for Seatmate's "massively long" legs. My response was one of surprise. "Really?"  It was met with indignation.

All I could manage was a "wow."

When we're finally airborne, Seatmate pulls out the MacBook Pro. Up goes the screen, out go the typing elbows. Keep in mind, I'm plastered against the cabin wall and Seatmate has the aisle seat. I ask for a little room and Seatmate snaps, "It must suck to be married to you."

I ignored the remark, looked at my watch and saw that I had an hour and fifteen minutes left. The bubble over my head must have read..."why am I being punished?"

So picture me, knees pressed into the seat in front of me (I'm 6'4", remember), elbows in my side and a wall on my other side that I've become very well acquainted with. Then, Seatmate starts squirming and the inevitable next interaction occurs. Seatmates tells me to stop touching and leaning on them.  I incrediously respond, "Where do you want me to go?" I'm leaning against a wall, sitting askew, just trying to survive the rest of the flight. Then comes Seatmate's diatribe about disc surgery that requires them to sit straight. This to a guy who's had five major knee surgeries and currently has a seat back using said knees as support. As you can guess, there's not a lot of empathy coming from me at this time.

Of course this culminates with angry Seatmate unbuckling in a huff, making a scene and demanding to be moved.

Good riddance. I've been flying regularly for 35 years and have never experienced anything like this. Once, a guy next to me dropped his Bloody Mary in my lap (!) but we had a good laugh and I ended up with a free drink. I haven't gotten any bigger in those 35 years, so it's surprising that something like this happens and comes from someone half my size! 

Not sure what makes a person so angry, especially with Christmas just two weeks away. I do hope that Seatmate finds peace of mind and removes the very large chip from their shoulder. It must tough carrying it around. And it's true - you never know what someone else is going through, which is why I tried to be patient. Whatever it is, hopefully Seatmate cheers up in time for Christmas.

I'm sure everyone reading this has a story to share, whether it be a Bloody Mary in the lap or an unsavory Seatmate. Share your funny planes, trains and automobiles story with us. And safe and happy travels this holiday season.

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