Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Fat Man on the Plane . . .

I drove up to Kansas City on Monday afternoon/evening with four colleagues for an all-day seminar on Tuesday that, in theory, will help me actual sell more "stuff" to clients moving forward. It was a great event and I learned a ton (yes, even my ego will allow me to admit that I have a FEW things left in this world to learn).

The evening on Monday was a lot of fun. We had an OUTSTANDING dinner on Monday evening. Yep. I agree with Anthony Bourdain that some of the best barbecue food in the WORLD might possibly come from a gas station in Kansas City. (If you ever find yourself in Kansas City it is totally worth the trip to check it out!). I, like the rest of my party, ate way too much of the chicken. And the rice and beans. And the onion rings. And the french fries. And the pickles. It is okay to splurge every now and again - right?!

We went down to the plaza for some after dinner drinks and talked about one of my favorite subjects in the world . . . sizism. Specifically sizism on airplanes.

We were talking about business travel and flying.

My companions acknowledged that they are never a big fan of being seated next to the "big man" on an airplane. For my part I talked about the absolute horror of being the "big man" on the plane for all those years and the look of absolute fear that would read on the faces of so many people in aisle or window seats when the fat man started pushing down the aisle and the middle seat next to them was empty . . . with the arm rest UP! Oh the bone-chilling thrill of it all (smile)!

They would quickly lower the arm rest and just wait. The relief on the faces of aisle two didn't disappear so much as transfer to the faces of aisle three (energy, nervous or otherwise, can neither be created nor destroyed - as we all know) as I passed them and so on and so on until I made my way to aisle 19 (or whatever) only to crush the hopes and dreams of the poor shell of a business man who just wanted to get back to Toledo to his sick kid and grumpy wife after four days of sales meetings and no closed sales.

I got it then. I get it now. And I am proud of my colleagues for being honest about their disinterest in flying the friendly skies with a jolly old fat man hanging in to their space.

I think I've shared the story here before but I've never been more in love with my wife than when we got blitzed with some fatty-fat-FAT awkwardness when we were seated in an exit row on the way to our honeymoon only to learn (which we already knew before we were moved to the exit row) that people who "require belt extenders" (such a euphemism) can't sit in exit rows. I actually thought Joy was going to physically assault the flight attendant who did an all call to help get the "obese man" in the exit row moved to an "alternative" seating assignment. Ah. Good times.

That was a long time and hundreds of pounds ago though.

We all had a laugh about it the whole situation as my colleagues sipped Stoli-Doli martinis and I enjoyed the best iced tea I've had in ages at Capitol Grille. We all agreed that there are worse things in life than flying with the obese though . . . like four days of bad business meetings and a sick kid waiting for you back in Toledo.


John Deary said...

Great article.

I remember when we would fly to Florida to see the inlaws, We would book 4 seats. Because of the configuration of the plane many times it would be two seets on one side and three on the other.

I would always sit with my two small boys and have my wife "make a new friend" just so I could spare myself the embarasment.

Thank go I lost the weight, because my little boys aren't so little anymore.

I do feel a pinge of sadness when I see people "discretely" ask for an extender. Most flight attendants are cool with not annoucning to the world that they are delivering one, but I can spot it from a mile away now.

John from Oakville.

This Show said...

If I had to choose between a big person and the talker who is just nice enough that you can't put your headphones on without feeling like a jerk . . . I'd go big person.

I need to learn to board the plane with ipod in place.