Don’t Be “THAT” Person – The Middle Seat Neanderthal

Warning – This post is one of the few rants that I will ever express publicly and was purely inspired by my personal experience on a two-hour flight to Dallas recently.  Everyone who knows me, and even those who do not, but follow this blog, know that travel is my passion.  I live, eat, sleep and breathe travel.  I encourage and highly endorse people to get out and explore the world.  If you are unable to explore the world, explore a geographic location outside of your local area.  However, please understand that there are some basic dos and don’t to being a good traveler.  This post will focus on the dos and don’ts of the air traveler seated in the dreaded middle seat.

So most of us have been there.  Seated in that blasted middle seat.  Maybe you didn’t have elite status, didn’t want to pay the $10, $20, or $30 dollars to select a “preferred” seat, or were flying standby and had to take what was available.  Whatever the reason, you ended up in the middle seat and had to endure the uncomfortable situation for the duration of your flight.  For those of us who are seasoned travelers and had to do that, we just accepted the situation for what it was, counted our blessings that we were able to jet set and explore, and tried to be a considerate seatmate to our window and aisle counterparts.  But alas, there is that person who doesn’t realize that the space in the airplane is very limited and you DO actually have someone seated to the left or right of you, even if your ignorant behind refuses to acknowledge it.

So board the plane, store my carry on luggage (I actually experienced team carry-on, go figure) and get settled in my seat.  The flight attendants and gate agents already mentioned that this would be a full flight, so I knew that there would be very little chance in having an empty seat between myself and the woman seated in the aisle seat. Well, ten minutes after I boarded, our third wheel arrived and settled in.  Now, a red flag went off when his travel partner bypassed his seat by about 8 row and the neanderthal in 10B (the inspiration for this post) starts shouting at the guy to come back.  Alright maybe they had “one” (or a few) before getting on the plane and the sight is not a bit blurry.  10B takes his seat and starts talking to the woman in the aisle seat about her cellular phone and he says that he only sticks to flip phones because he can’t handle that new stuff.  Interesting, but none of my business.  I then assume the position – hoodie over head and head against the wall for a little nap.

BUMP.  I open my eyes because I’ve just been hit in the arm.  Waiting for an “excuse me”, I get an “oh”.  So, I go back to my position and chalk it off as an accident.  Two more bumps and I’ve had it.  Unless you have absolutely NO damn sense of feeling, you know when you bump into someone and you would think that you would stop.  Why did he keep hitting me?  Well, this idiot kept flailing his arms while talking to the women in the aisle seat.  By this time, the snack cart comes around and I request my regular (ginger ale with no ice) and take a sip of my beverage before covering it on my tray and trying to return to sleep.  About fifteen minutes later, I am being poked in my arm asking if I finished my drink.  Damn, Damn, Damn!

I could go on and on about the neanderthal in the middle seat, but I will cut things short.  I will simply say this, the same rules of etiquette for social interaction that apply on the ground apply at 30,000 feet in the air.  If you happen to be the neanderthal in the middle seat or know someone who fits the profile, allow me to share the rules.

  1. Thou shall remember thy manners.
    – There are two people seated near you.  Look to the left– there is a person.  Look to the right– yep, you guessed it, another person.  If you happen to bump into slide into that person’s personal space and they put something up (say like that plane magazine in the seat back pocket) to help you from encroaching, say sorry and make the necessary bodily adjustments.  The word “oh” doesn’t suffice.
  2. Thou shall not be overly animated with one’s hands.
    – Unlike ground zero, the space on the plane is very limited.  Please do not use overly excessive hand gestures when speaking.  Yes, I too communicate with my hands, but I am very mindful of my surroundings.
  3. Thou shall not wake up sleeping beauty.
    – Oh, you were upset that I cut my eyes at you, raised my voice when I said “No”, and sucked my teeth?  Well, what in the heck did you think I would do when you interrupted my rest to ask if I finished my drink?  Ding dong doo-doo ball, we have another 1.5 hours left in the flight and the flight attendants will make 2 more passes before the plane lands.  Mind your dang business.

Okay, I feel better now I’ve gotten this public service announcement out-of-the-way.  Just one last piece of comic relief for you before I end.  The plane was starting to descend and Mr. Neanderthal (see I can be nice and at least call him Mr.) decided he needed to go to the restroom.  So, he returns back to the seat location, but tells the woman in the aisle that he is going to stand for a minute.  This jack off then starts shoulder surfing and looking at the display of the cellular phone of a passenger seated in the row ahead of ours and making comments.  Hopeless!  No class.

Safe travels people!

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