23 Hours in Orlando – Part 1

I had been dreading my business trip to Orlando. My dread was not unfounded as it got off to an inauspicious start.

I can’t afford to fly first class, and nothing about me would ever be considered first class. But since I have very long legs, I prefer extra legroom on my flights, so I paid a bit extra to guarantee a seat in the emergency exit row. As I flopped down into my seat, I couldn’t help but notice that it was a tad tight around my tush.

I’m about the only person who considers me fat. I’m 6’1” tall and about 190 lbs. If I convert that to metric, I think that’s 18.25 hands high with a weight of 13.5 stones. Anyway, I’d like to be 6’ 2” tall and 180 lbs. I’ve failed miserably recently at both gaining height and reducing weight. A little less weight would have been nice in that airline seat. Kim Kardashian may have struggled to get all her implants situated in the seat. I am sure there would have been offers of assistance. The bottom (pun intended) line is that the seat was tight for me.

This is the part of the blog post where I walk the line between being politically correct and a jerk. Oh, you thought that was the previous paragraph? Read on if you dare. You have been warned.

As I sat in my cozy seat, an extremely large couple came down the aisle with their destinations being the window and center seats next to me. By “large couple,” I mean morbidly obese. As the husband plopped down in the center seat, he didn’t make it. I swear he spent the whole flight sitting across the two armrests, and perhaps some of him sagged down to seat level, but who knows? The armrest to my left was completely obscured by part of his right butt cheek. I sought refuge for both my elbows on the armrest to my right.

I have gone shoulder-to-shoulder with large passengers next to me on planes before.  Eventually, I just get used to and maybe even grow to like the human contact during the flight. So I had no problems with rubbing shoulders with the large man to my left on the plane. The problem was (get ready) his backfat. Sorry. As he leaned back in his seat, his backfat had to go somewhere, so it squished out towards me and literally pushed me towards the aisle.

You have to believe me when I tell you that I tried to sit there. I really did try to find a comfortable position. I could not. My back was starting to spasm due to the odd curved shape my body assumed as his mass pushed against me. I asked him nicely if he could lift the armrest between him and his wife and maybe snuggle more her way. Nope. The armrests in the emergency row don’t raise.

The flight was almost full, but the flight attendant completely understood my dilemma when I sought succor from her. She directed me to an open center seat (yay?) and comped me 500 frequent flier miles. I did my best statue imitation for the 2+ hour flight, which wasn’t too difficult since my long legs preclude any movement when sitting in a standard center seat.

After the flight, I noticed an American Airlines customer relations counter right next to my arrival gate. A sign perhaps? I noticed the large couple headed for the bathrooms while I headed to the desk, putting on my best nice-nice face and demeanor. I wasn’t looking for a free ticket or an airline captain’s hat, but a refund for the preferred seat would be nice. It wasn’t going too well until I was able to point out the couple as they exited the bathrooms and walked past. The timing was perfect. Suddenly, I got a compensatory priority seat assigned to me on my return flight. Thank you American Airlines.

I felt terrible about the role I played in that scenario – the bad guy who publicly shames people for being too fat by having his seat moved. They can’t help it, right? Wait a second. Maybe they can help it. Maybe a 6 piece McNugget meal rather than the 10 piece next time. Maybe it was I who was the victim of fat bullying? I was the one with the spasming back.

And another thing, how can morbidly obese people be allowed to sit in an emergency row next to the emergency exit? They had trouble getting in their seats. How can we trust them in an emergency with getting out of their seats and opening the emergency exit door? I don’t want my life in their hands. On my flight home (spoiler alert!), an ancient couple who used canes was seated in the emergency row ahead of mine. Same problem! In case of emergency, people will die if the seniors with canes are required to open the emergency exit door. I think there should be a basic fitness test to be able to sit in an emergency row seat, like maybe doing ten deep knee bends at check-in.

knee bend

After I checked into my hotel and had too many complimentary cookies and glasses of pink lemonade (according to the side-eye glances I got from the hotel desk clerk), I was ready for some TV and sleep. But just to make sure I didn’t turn into a fat bully after too many snacks, I headed to the pool and swam a quarter mile. That way, I’ll just turn into a bully, not a fat bully. By the way, the pool was too warm for my taste. While I don’t consider myself a fat bully (yet), I certainly cop to being a pool snob. After that, I was ready for some hours under the covers before I was off for some trade show adventures in Orlando.  Watch for Part 2 tomorrow and the trip pictures. They are at the drugstore being developed now.

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