Sunday, March 6, 2011

Flying the heavy skies

I've got some extra poundage hanging around, no doubt about it.  I hate it and am always trying to do something about it.  But on a positive note, at least I can still fit into an airplane seat without my extra layers seeping over and encroaching on the party sitting next to me.  To be fair, in a world of tall, grande and vente sizes, the coach airplane seat on most airlines is the meager "tall" - there is not a lot of extra leg room, or for that matter , much space for your hips, thighs or shoulders either.

I am in Portland today.  Flew up yesterday morning.  I had debated driving, it is a ten hour drive, which when I have plenty of time and guaranteed good road conditions, I prefer.  Those ten hours are usually like a gift I give to myself.  Similar to perhaps spending the day at a spa, or at the beach.  It is where my head clears, fills with new thoughts, then clears again.  A much needed mental binge and purge.  But this time I decided to fly.  I didn't want to use up two full days traveling and it is early March after all.  Checking the weather forecast all I could see was rain for the week ahead, and for me, when I see rain it translates as snow over the mountains.  And snow is definitely not my best friend, actually not a friend at all.  Also with gas prices soaring I didn't want to be reminded of it on my many trips to the gas pump both coming and going.  So, Southwest it is.

I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare.  Calling 24 hours prior to boarding landed me in that prestigious group of "A" boarders.  Hooray, I am pretty much guaranteed space in the overhead compartment for my carry-on.  As I boarded the plane, walking down the aisle where it seems that all pre-seated eyes are upon you, you scan quickly from side to side, looking for someone that doesn't look like a crazed Gary Busey or a drunken Lindsay Lohan type to sit next to.

The male flight attendant was on the loudspeaker, "This is a full flight folks, just take a seat and we will be able to get you where you are going much faster".   Feeling a bit pressured, I took the next aisle seat I came to.  There was already a passenger seated by the window.

After I stuffed my small suitcase overhead, shoved my large purse underneath the seat in front of me, I buckled my belt, glanced quickly at my row mate and then saw that he was a very large man, so large that I prayed no one sat in the middle seat or if they did they would be no larger than the size of a four year old child.

"This is a full flight folks" - he started up again.  "Take the first seat you see, as all seats will be filled" -  Now I was eyeing every oncoming passenger, thinking "who the hell will want this seat?"  I felt that icky feeling of being picked for the softball team - knowing my row was probably coming in last.  But no, the 250 lb+ woman barreling towards me, with luggage that should've been checked at the gate, must have felt the pressure that I had felt just moments earlier.  "Can I sit there?" she sprayed all over me .   Now, in the past, I would have moved over in to the middle seat to make the whole thing easier.  This is, after all, only a one and a half hour flight. But I'm getting tougher in my old age.  Quickly my mind revisited how just 24 hours earlier I made the effort to go online, making sure to get a boarding number as soon as allowed.  She obviously didn't do that.  She must have been in the "C" or "D" boarding group.  And this time I decided she would have to suffer more than me for it.  She was going to pay dearly for both not pre-checking in and also for that large wad of gum in her mouth that she couldn't seem to keep there.  Her Wrigley's spearmint was like an unruly spitting child that she didn't have control of.

As she settled into the middle seat, I had to sit with both of my legs angled off towards the aisle, trying not to trip anyone as they went by.  Why people always need to use the restroom the moment the "fasten seat belt" sign turns off, I will never understand.  It is as if they wait, "No, that's okay, I'll use the bathroom once we get on the plane."  Who thinks like that?  All I think about is that if I can avoid it, I will.  If this plane goes down, I want to die with some dignity, I surely don't want to be found with my pants down around my ankles.  Anyway, back to my misery and pain.  I have a pinched nerve in my lower back and this twist of my body didn't help things.  Our thighs squished together and each time she moved contact was reestablished and it was almost embarrassing, like a first kiss.  I don't sit this close to people I know and now not only do I have to sit next to a complete stranger that is sloppily chewing her gum, but also adding to my discomfort, she is now sniffing and sneezing with wadded up tissues in hand, while our thighs are joined in holy matrimony.

We can all agree that people are getting bigger, massive might be the right word.  Not just overweight, but downright obese.  And sadly, with all the diet aids, plans and gimmicks, it has only made a whole lot of industry people wealthy instead of making their consumers thinner.  With each can of Slimfast we just seem to get a little bit bigger.
  • Obesity is the #2 cause of preventable death in the United States
  • 60 million Americans, 20 years and older are obese
  • 9 million children and teens ages 6-19 are overweight

Instead of joining Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig,  I think my new choice of weight loss tools will be to fly more frequently.  Flying the friendly skies inspires and motivates me to get in shape, to try and stay healthy (hearing all the coughing, sneezing, and nose blowing just kinda does that to you), and even causes me to "pass" on the bag of delicious peanuts they are serving.  So all in all I guess this flying thing can be a win/win situation.  You get to your destination much quicker than any other mode of travel and you leave with a new found commitment to losing a bit of weight (like you never want to eat again) and in general, just taking better care of yourself.

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