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I remember flying when I was a kid: the hot food, the real silverware, the stylishly-dressed “stewardesses,” the blankets and pillows and playing cards. Now we’re left with expensive food for purchase and the hope that all the people in your row are wearing shoes, or at least socks (not the case on this flight).
I try to be polite and considerate most of the time. I rarely put my seat back for just this reason. It was different when the seats were farther apart, but now with as many rows jammed into coach as possible, a seat going back over my tray practically knocks my drink over. So I don’t tend to do it to other people. I don’t, however, blame other people for doing it, as long as they do it slowly. So when the guy in front of me pushed his seat back, I wasn’t surprised. As the seat got closer I pulled my laptop off of the tray and onto my lap so that the screen could stay open enough for me to see. This is all routine on a flight.
But then the man in front of me turned around and asked if it was alright, meaning was it OK that I had lost four or five more inches of what precious little space I started out with. If he hadn’t asked, I never would have dreamed of saying anything – he’s perfectly within his rights to move his seat back. But if he’s going to ask me? I’m not going to tell him it’s OK! I said “Well, we’re all cramped. You do what you’ve gotta do.” I said it nicely, I tried not to sound annoyed, but perhaps it’s one of those times I should’ve just kept my mouth shut and smiled. But he asked. And he put his seat back up. And now I feel a little bad, because in his way he was trying to be considerate.
It reminds me of a time earlier this year when I heard my next-door neighbor shouting at a guy walking his dog who had tried to put a bag of poop in my neighbor’s garbage can. On the one hand, I can’t stand it when people put things in our cans. They never put the recycling in the right place, they put smelly food in the cans when we take great pains not to put any food in our garbage, and if I wanted to have dog poop in my garbage cans I would get a dog.
But on the other hand, isn’t it counter-productive to criticize the people who are actually making an effort? In a neighborhood full of poopy sidewalks, at least this poor guy cleaned up after his dog. And the guy in front of me asked about my comfort.
I’ve read that some airlines have seats that solve this problem. Cathay Pacific has ingenious economy class seats that, when reclined, slide forward a little. In other words, if you want to lean back, you lose a bit of your own legroom and you don’t affect the space of the person behind you at all. But until all airlines get these seats (and I see no sign of this happening), perhaps the answer is to politely tell the person behind you that you’re going to move your seat back, then do it slowly, and not all the way. This gives me time to move my things, and keeps me from having to lie to you and say that yes, it’s absolutely fine that you’ve made my cramped flight even worse.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, Momtourage, and podcasts with The Blogging Angels.