The economy of space

I was on a flight recently with a colleague as flying happens a fair bit to me these days, I just can’t help it as it’s my job.

We were going on a reasonable interstate hop home to Sydney and it was a Friday evening when everyone has the same idea as us so as that goes we were packed in… and the Perth Glory football team were there too so I was in esteemed company. One great big pack of people from all walks of life including as it seems the kind that are oblivious to self or outward perception to others. No I am not talking about the footballers.

I like to think I am reasonable in my calculation of my outward self to you and everyone else in my immediate vicinity mainly because I try very hard to not look like a prat. This is sometimes tainted by me cursing myself softly with my outside voice when I do something stupid in public, the action followed by some begrudging moan followed then by a small exclamation of an expletive that causes eyes to be averted and maybe a stifled giggle… from me. You may be reading this now and thinking that I am not all here, you might be right however for the next part I am sane, I promise.

Back to the plane and all I want is to get my dinner service with one of those little cans of apple fizzy drink and some extra crackers with cheese please but first to get to my seat and make sure my bag is in the overhead locker. It all goes to plan because I am early and there aren’t that many people on board yet and I know with the flight like this  it will be full so the last ones to get on will have trouble with the lockers because everyone would have taken the space up. You, mister last-to-arrive-because-the-cabbie-took-his-time-with-the-lights should have planned ahead.

So I wait patiently and my screen isn’t turning on and in general troubleshooting as you do in the tech industry you moan about how it’s all broken all while pressing the attendant button over and over again, no wait you be scientific and ask your neighbour if theirs is working, and it is, so then you moan that oh no I am going to be bored all of the flight long. You stop moaning because that is childish and a new passenger has arrived rather late into the waiting game, he is sporting a fancy tie and a sharp suit. He stops ahead of you and you assume correctly that he is sitting in front of your colleague as that is the last seat available. Now he scrunches his suit jacket up (it couldn’t have been that expensive then and I am terrible at picking who made what suit) and then stuffs it into the overhead locker followed by shoving his bags in too. Over an over slams the locker cover until a much gentler looking human who happens to be a steward deftly repacks and then proceeds to close the locker with 60% of their fingers on the one hand. Forethought is wonderful, such amazing.

Ok so you’ve had a bad day, you can’t tell width from height and the lockers are a pain in the arse but maybe sitting down and taking a load off might help. And so sitting with force isn’t exactly what I had in mind for relaxation. I don’t know about you but I like to try my best to be slight in situations like this, sometimes my 180cm frame doesn’t allow that but when I am here in this squishy plane with you I am going to try be as unobtrusive as possible. As life goes I don’t know you well and I don’t want to be in your airspace nor have you sniffing my hair and figuring out if I eat enough vegetables or not (answer: not). So when your fellow passenger in front is doing what they can to a) make it seem like an MMA match is happening right there and you can’t see anyone but by god you can tell one of the fighters has the other one in a hold and is slamming them against the seat and…b) recline like their life depended on it, you just wonder why take all this frustration out on the seat, just sit and be because surely you use less energy when you are still. Just watching it happen and not be directly affected still made me uncomfortable but my colleague survived the ordeal and is proof that you aren’t killed to certain death when the rays of the infotainment screen in front are just 5.5cm from your face… for 3 hours. Also by an astonishing feat he watched shows on his laptop while it was mostly closed owing to the fact that advanced yoga moves were involved.

Everyone on the plane is there to share the space and none more so than the economy fliers because they/we have much better things to do with the extra 3-4k we save by breathing in other people’s sweat. Maybe think about how everyone else feels next time and then just don’t do it and I will assure you the world will be a happier, just as smelly place.

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