The Battle for Airplane Space
I have adopted a new travel pet peeve: people who take up too much space on airplanes. I don’t mean people who are particularly large (though I suppose that would also be a problem), but people who don’t have enough common sense to know that they should stay on their side of the armrest.
Today I boarded a flight from Houston to Kansas City, MO. The plane was probably the smallest aircraft I’ve ever been on, and I went through a maze of hallways and gates before walking outside and climbing the steps. My seatmate hadn’t arrived, but I was already uncomfortable. I don’t like small planes. Maybe I imagine there to be more turbulence on smaller planes or don’t think I can really walk around. I don’t know. But I just feel safer on larger jets. My seatmate is the last passenger on board. He’s a well-dressed businessman in his late fifties. He greets me, apologizes for making me get up, and settles in. I fasten my seat belt and look up to find that in one quick move he has claimed the armrest dividing us as his own. I contemplate this for a moment. Usually when I use the armrest, I make sure I place my elbow towards the front or the back so the other person can use part of it if they want to. Not this guy. We take off. As soon as electronic devices are allowed on, he takes out his iPad and I grab my Nook. Our situation instantly gets worse. He decides his entertainment of choice is Angry Birds, which can only be played with the iPad turned horizontally, thus widening his arms. I pull down my tray table and rest my device against it, trying not to seem annoyed, but his elbow keeps inching into my space. I have to hold my ground. I stay exactly where I am, refusing to give up any more precious, personal space until our elbows collide. I pretend not to notice, but I also don’t back down. It takes about two minutes of battling an extremely challenging level for him to notice the development in our situation. He does a double take of our arms and ultimately decides he’s in the wrong, thus retreating. Mission accomplished. Ashley 1: Seatmate: 0.
When we finally land in Kansas City, the weather is the first thing that struck me. It’s bright, sunny, dry, and gorgeous. I hopped on board a super shuttle to my hotel with a library science student named Breadny (the self-proclaimed victim of bad naming), who goes by Brandon, from upstate New York. We talk mostly about food (there’s talk of amazing BBQ in Kansas City) and our expectations for the show before parting ways in the hotel lobby. I drop my luggage and head to the convention center to set up. The show doesn’t start til Thursday, so I have a free evening to explore the city. My hotel is in an area of town called “Crown Center,” where Hallmark is based. And you’ll never forget it because Hallmark is EVERYWHERE. I walked into what had to be the biggest Hallmark store I’ve ever seen. They must have had full collections of cards, ornaments, figurines, collectables. And right across the street stood the Hallmark factory. I missed visiting hours today, but I may feel ambitious enough to try tomorrow.
The night ended with sushi and high hopes for making new friends. I love traveling alone for that reason alone: you never know who you’ll end up hanging out with, and where that adventure may take you.