Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Trading Spaces

What’s the statute of use of personal spaces while confined to claustrophobic steel traps and what could really be considered impropriety and transgressions of ones own personal space? These were the thoughts that were running in my head when I boarded a flight for Houston from Detroit Metro on business. There was this decent middle aged, but rather portly, gentleman sitting next to me on the flight, in the commoner class where you really pay for a contortionist’s career and a bag of peanuts. Unlike first/business class seats where you are swallowed up by your loveseat with the built in Jacuzzi, which reclines almost 180 degrees to enable the rich to catch their z’s, the economy class has your knees pushes up against your chest and your elbows tucked in doing the chicken dance.

So it was a 6:00 AM flight, and being a full flight, no seats were empty. After takeoff the lights were dimmed and people were slumbering away, some snoring and grunting and wheezing to the dull hum of the airplane. Having reached late to catch the flight, I barely had space for the tip of my elbow to be placed on the elbow rest. The entire elbow space was already monopolized by my fellow traveler. Let’s call him Jaaba for now. Just a teeny weenie patch of elbow room was available in the protruding end of the elbow rest. So I gingerly placed my elbow there, since you want to avoid any physical contact, not out of any homophobic predilections but just in the fear of antagonizing some redneck who might take it the wrong way. After takeoff Jaaba next to me begins to snore rather loudly and his head is rolling between my shoulder and the other chap sitting next to him. Next thing I know is my elbow has been knocked off its perch and Gulliver has gained control of the entire elbow rest. As I am thinking of ways and means to reengage and get a ‘shoe in’ on the elbow rest, my legroom space is being invaded as well. Well blow the conches, bang those drums and clang those cymbals, its holy war how. But moving the leg back means er. resorting to physical contact again, with a man. Yikes. Spilling that hot coffee from my cup into his lap did cross my mind, but sometimes for some inane reason the humane side of your mind tends to win these kinds of arguments.

So there I am scrunched up even further in my seat, praying for the drinks cart to make its appearance sooner. And now Jaaba begins to drool in his sleep, luckily not on me, but perilously close to the passenger on the other side. That passenger begins to freak out and proceeds to wake up Jaaba by gently tapping his shoulders and politely asking to borrow his magazine. Nicely done mate, wily, crafty approach. Intrusive yet not provocative, smart indeed. Jaaba turns and looks at me quizzically when he sees me plastered to the window and cowering in my seat. Quickly I resort to reclaiming my half of the elbow rest as well as restore the original position of my legs, which Jaaba gives up without a fight. Jaaba is now laughing and engaged in a conversation with the guy next to him, while I am lulled back to sleep by the hum of those airplane engines.


Blogger Anshul said...

Exquisite thought process and extremely well-written, Sourin!

We find "Jabaas" all the time and in every sphere of life! Beware and try to trade your space while you are returning to Detroit.


3:36 PM  

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