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Monday, October 28, 2013

The Sprawler

You know how it is when you are sitting in a middle seat, watching the people come up the aisle on a very full plane, and wondering with dread who is going to plop down on the seat next to you. 

I remember the time a huge Polynesian rugby player (a prop for a Waikato team) arriving beside me, and how I squinched up in dreadful anticipation.  And he turned out to be the politest seat-mate possible.  I was amazed how efficiently he kept his muscular body to himself.  It must have been something to do with being so athletic.

And another time my seat mate turned out to be a famous black jazz saxophone player, on his way back to Los Angeles.  He was such a charmer and so very interesting that I didn't mind when he fell asleep on my shoulder.

It was not like that on the latest flight from Sydney. The guy who arrived up the aisle was yelling on his cellphone.  He dropped his luggage, partly on my lap, and then shuffled his not particularly large body into his seat and overlapping mine, chattering non-stop.  No eye contact was made whatsoever, and there was no polite nod. 

Instead, he propped his left elbow on the armrest, and leaned his head on his hand, which cuddled the cellphone, so that he was holding his conversation right in my ear.  I heard about the smarmy so-and-so in the office, and how he was sending his fervent love to everyone else, and that it was such a good idea to bring in the team from Pittsburgh.  And then, thank the lords of the sky, the instruction to turn off electronic devices put a halt to the chat -- though he delayed as long as possible while he sent everyone his love again.

And after that, he sprawled.  He used up the same amount of room as the fellow in the picture above, but without the excuse of being alone.  Broad gestures were made in time to the action on the movie he watched.  Elbows were akimbo as he ate his airplane meal.  And guess what happened the instant the plane touched ground.

Yes, out came that cellphone again.


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