We got to the airport way early, so early that we decided to walk around and see all the new stuff that has been added over the last 50 years. For starters, we got there by commuter train, which comes in practically to the departure gates and gets you to center city in 20 minutes, and can take you 30 miles out in the suburbs in about an hour. Every airport should have one.
After going through the screening we had more than an hour to kill and we wandered around, up one ramp and down another. They seemed to be sticking out like the spokes of a wheel, and it was in fact a mall. We saw all kinds of shops including some pretty pricey ones and a wine bar where you can get an imported taste for only $12. And so it came to pass that when we figured our flight would be called, we were lost.
We thought we came back the way we went out, but somehow that appendage dead ended into the wrong airline. So we walked back and tried another route, with the same result. Ramps seemed to be crossing and recrossing each other, like the streets in Washington, D.C. We were about to break down and ask some English-speaking person for directions, which would look ridiculous, especially for somebody who has used this airport since the Wright Brothers. We finally recognized a store we had passed on the outbound journey, and we figured they wouldn’t have two stores selling imported crystal in the same airport. To make a long walk short, by the time we found the right gate the plane was already loading.
When we found our assigned seat, it did not exist. At least a good part of it did not. There was a woman in the middle of the row with a backside the size of the Everglades. The arm rests, which fold down and afford a small sense of privacy, were not available for either our side or the poor chap in the aisle seat. But at least he could lean into the aisle for breathing space. Our only option was to get out on the wing. We estimated the width of the seat back in front of us at about 18 inches, and this tub next to us required at least 5 inches more.
Squeezing into our half seat, already frustrated by being lost for an hour, we said something to the woman.
“You know something, honey? You’re fat.”
Actually, we did not say that, but we thought about it for the next 2.5 hours, a good part of which was consumed while waiting in line to take off and the time it took to deplane all these people, including the fat woman. We felt blessed that the flight home was relatively short, and we wondered what it would have been like had we been headed to India. We also thought about the idea recently publicized that people of size ought to pay more for special seats to accommodate them, or at least pay by the pound, and use that surcharge to offer consolation discounts to the people forced to sit next to them.
When you think about it, everything else that is shipped is paid for by size and weight. Why should people be different? And a big package shipped by air doesn’t even offend a smaller parcel by getting in its space and forcing it to sit on the wings. Of course, the argument will be that offensively large bodies should not be discriminated against, even when they offend those of us with beautiful taut figures.
Of course, in this era of GPS there ought to be a discreet way of telling over a computer or telephone if a person has special needs, such as room to spread out, and automatically provide a seat built to size and shape, and charge accordingly without the necessity to say, “know something, honey…”