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When leaving your seat up is a civic duty. An open letter to dumb, selfish, fat people on airplanes.


You can protect your liberties in this world only by protecting the other man's freedom. You can be free only if I am free. ~~ Clarence Darrow


I am annoyed by a lot of things; probably more things than the average person.  I admit it.  Yet, I also can honestly say that very little of that which annoys me causes me to escalate directly to anger.  Poor merging on the entrance ramp, browsing while in the drive-through lane, loud cell phone conversation in public places-- all these things irritate me like a bee sting. If you want to make me mad, red-faced and clenched fist ready to fly into a rage mad, then relax and get comfortable.  Stretch your big whale-blubber arms and put that lice-ridden, sweat-stained horseshoe pillow behind your nub of a neck and snap that airplane seat back WAYYY back.  That's it.  Get comfy you pain in the ass.  It's going to be a 2 hour flight and we all see you are at least 20,000 hours behind on your beauty sleep.

I am 6 foot, 3 inches tall.  Now, that's really tall if you compare yourself to the members of the Camry user group or hang out in a lot of Jockey bars-- but for human beings it's still pretty normal.  I can buy pants in stores that advertise their brand on their sign rather than their customer's sizes.   The last 4 presidents have been 6 foot 1 inch, 5 foot 11 inches, 6 foot 2 inches and 6 foot 2 inches (Clinton and the first Bush were the same height).  I am therefore not some freakishly large person complaining that my backside covers the window, middle and aisle seat.   I'm a normal guy of average size who fits just fine in an airplane's seat; right up until the point when somebody in front of me decides to move their seat into my space.

A reclining seat on an aircraft has its time and place like anything.  Many things in our world have multiple uses and those uses are not always proper in every moment.   For example, it is perfectly acceptable to cast off your crocs and flop your sorry self horizontal on your couch at home to watch DWTS and spit Cheeto crumbs all over your free Marlboro shirt when you are shocked by how fat Kirstie Alley has gotten again.  You should not do this when you have company (you know, like maybe your social worker or parole officer) over.  It's just plain rude.On an airplane, seats should not go back unless you are flying at night and only then if it is a flight longer than 2 hours.  A 2 hour flight is basically up, beverage cart and down.  If you sleep during a 2 hour flight you can't possibly ever go to a movie in a theater.  In a movie theater it is completely dark and there's nobody walking by bumping your shoulder on the way to the bathroom.  Incidentally, pharma companies should look into buying coach seats near the lavatories to solicit frequent passerby's for bladder medication.  I digress.

In the last 2 weeks I've been on 4 airplanes.  Most of the flights have been during daylight hours.  The last flight left at 3 pm and was 2.5 hours in duration.  As soon as the beep for 10,000 feet echoed through the cabin that tells me to snag my MP3 player, the practicing narcoleptic in front of me briskly slammed her seat back into my knees.

The process of moving that seat back is smooth.  Press a button and it slides back evenly.  If it does not, it means it has hit an obstruction, like a person's body.  If you are putting a cork in a bottle and it resists, it makes sense to tap it repeatedly.  If your seat won't go back because it has hit another person, it will not slide back further by ramming it into that person unless your intention is to break that person in half.  Also, it is possible that someone has a laptop or--baby-- on their lap that you are now crushing.

As the woman's seat hit my knees I was trapped.  When she kept hammering her seat back to get herself more room I was forced to adjust and further adjust until my legs had some sort of natural pathway.  When I had finally gotten to a spot where I thought I could hold off a blood clot for 2 hours I apparently had bumped the poor precious flower in front of me in the process; for she turned and glared at me with that Kyrspy Kreme complection and flared swine nostrils indicating she was nonplussed with my lack of concern for her need to rest.  It is true, I've seen the hippos at the zoo and they do sleep most of the day.

Beyond the lack of comfort, it's not easy to do the things you normally do on a flight when the person in front of you is reclined.  For instance, your seat tray still opens, but may not actually lay flat because it is stopped by your lap.   That means, that every time your femoral artery cycles your beverage container is bounced.  Getting your beverage to your mouth isn't easy either as the angle is like reaching through the tray at the movie theater ticket booth to obtain your glass from the other side.

I think on flights under 3 hours a metal rod should be inserted into the hinge on all the seats that keeps them locked upright.  We've banned anything with an 'on' switch now during take off and landing; that constitutes about 40 minutes of any flight.  You can't smoke.  Why can't we put this rule in place?

I suppose the flap would be akin to that of the stink that was raised when meals were ended on short flights.  This too drives me crazy, who the hell needs to eat every 3 hours.  I realize some of these people must have to consume 9,000 calories a day to maintain their figures, but I think they'll survive  if they can be carted from the Burger King at their originating gate to the McDonalds at the destination gate.

Until the airlines ban it (which I know will never happen), I implore you-- please leave your seat up.  If you do need to put it back or even if it is at night and it is conceivable that you would want to sleep, please ask the person behind you first.  Remember, you're behind somebody too and presumably you expect and approve of them putting their seat back-- and if you don't?  You're basically fat AND stupid.

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