Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Spain 2: The great overhead luggage bin altercation
You guys know the airplane rules about armrests and overhead bins, right? You know that they belong to everyone and that we must share because we are all suffering back in coach together.
Some people do not know the rules.
I boarded the plane. SH was in the business class seat that he got with miles and I was in the coach seat that we had paid for. I insisted he sit in the business class seat because 1. he is six inches taller than I am and that extra space is a lot more important to him than to me and 2. he travels so much that he should get to be comfortable and 3. he wouldn't even have the miles to get a ticket if he hadn't spent many hours away from home.
I sat in my seat and the young woman beside me plopped her arm on the armrest.
The armrest and the possession thereof is a situation that must be addressed at the very beginning. You don't want to set a bad precedent. I was once at the start of a 12-hour bus ride through Guatemala or Costa Rica and the guy next to me was sprawled out and hogging the arm rest. Very politely, I said, " Would you mind sharing the arm rest with me? It's going to be a long ride."
He was so shocked that he sat up, removed his leg from MY HALF OF THE SPACE, which is something men do that annoys me so much - if I pull my leg in so I do not have to be touching yours, it is not an invitation for you to spread your legs even wider into MY HALF OF THE SPACE, and shifted his arm over. It ended up being a nice ride. He was a forestry student at the university. We had to get off the bus in the middle of the night for the drug check and then for the Mediterranean fruit fly spraying, so we had plenty of time to talk.
The young woman was hogging the armrest and I was trying to gently nudge my arm in there so she would know there was another person sitting there, but she was busy texting.
Almost everyone had boarded. The seat in front of me was empty. The late passenger came back. He was a thin, tall, stooped man in his late 20s carrying a smallish gym bag. He opened the bin over his seat and it was full. He opened a few more around us and they were all full.
"If you rearrange my things," I suggested, "you can probably fit your bag in there."
He smiled at me and opened the bin over his seat again. As he pulled out the roll of Christmas wrapping paper that someone had put in there, a woman three seats behind us jumped up and strode forward. "No!" she shouted. "Do not move those things!"
She was in her late 60s, dyed red hair,* very heavy dark eyebrows. She wagged her finger at him and scolded. "You cannot move those things! There is room up there!" She waved in the general direction of the front of the plane.
The young man dropped his hand, bewildered.
"He has a right to that space," I told her. "He has a right to move things around so he can put his things up there."
She glared at me. I glared back. A few years ago, I boarded a plane only to find no room in the bins. I finally found one with space, but I was going to have to rearrange things. As I pulled out the top item, a woman told me, "You can't move that! It's fragile!"
Instead of telling her, "Then you can hold it in your lap or put it under your seat," I said, "Oh," and stuffed my bag under my seat and had no room whatsoever for my short, sturdy legs.
This was payback.
"Someone put things in mine," she said defiantly.
"Then help him find room for his. If you won't let him touch your things, then you need to help him."
She glared at me some more, but then did as I asked. As she turned behind us to look, other passengers offered help, telling him he could move their things.
After he finally sat, the young woman next to me said, "That was a nice thing to do." She smiled and removed her arm from the armrest. She finally saw me.
When we got off the plane nine hours later, the old lady jumped up to get her things out of the bin before I could even move. I saw her take out the rolling paper, a small bag, and her coat. There would have been plenty of room for the young man's things. She was just mean.
* I have got to come up with my going gray strategy. Home hair coloring once you're on social security is probably not a good idea. At least, it won't be for me.