Letter From America

February 19, 2008 at 1:55 pm 37 comments

whisper

Letter From America

Part 1 – The Journey

I recently returned from Atlanta, Georgia in the US of A. My new employer had decided to throw me in at the deep end by flying me out to the corporate head office on my very first day. For two weeks. It was my first day; my first time in America, and, my first time flying economy for a long-haul flight. 

The flight out was not too bad at all. We flew with Delta Airlines who are a partner of KLM. My Frequent Flyer Card was, therefore, valid for the flight. I had not flown since last February, so on the way out I was welcomed like a returning prodigal son.

My bag received a “Priority” sticker. I don’t know why they bother. As far as I can tell, most of the world’s baggage handlers are illiterate and assume that the bright yellow labels attached to certain bags means “sit on me”. 

I was given an aisle seat. As readers of my earlier post – Planes, Trains and Automobiles Part 2 (Belgium) – will know, there are certain strategic advantages to having an aisle seat. Unfortunately the air stewardesses resembled the great grandmothers of Desperate Housewives. They were stick thin. Artificially blonde. And, caked in garish makeup which held their grins in place. They looked like Peter Stringellow on acid. 

I was even given a sticker on board to identify me as a Frequent Flyer. This meant that I got extra cheese with my smile and free booze. Not to be sniffed at. 

The flight out was nine hours long, but as we had taken off at noon and were landing at four in the afternoon, sleep was not an issue. And, I had great fun playing with my new PC which I had just collected from my new boss. Yes, I lied when asked if “anyone has given you anything to take on board”. I just had to take it on trust that my new boss wasn’t an international terrorist. In truth, the jury is still out on that one…… 

The flight back was a very different story. We were flying out at eight at night to arrive at nine in the morning. So, sleep was very much an issue. This time, however, it seemed that all of my Frequent Flyer privileges had been revoked (except lounge access which, with three hours to kill at the airport, was as welcome as the free Makers Mark bourbon).

I did not get an aisle seat. I was sat in the middle of three. The lady who sat on my right. And I mean on my right (not to the right of me) was like a female version of the James Bond baddy, Whisper. She was as wide as she was tall. And, she was really quite tall. And she squeaked in a ridiculous whisper which was impossible to understand.  

After the first five minutes she gave up apologizing for knocking me. And then she decided to sleep. She donned her iPOD headset, her blindfold, and rolled, with all the grace of a hippopotamus in quick sand, onto her right side and began to snore…..very squeakily. I spent nine hours with her huge arse in my face and spilling over my chair arm, making it impossible for me to adjust the controls for the muti-media console.

She slept like a babe. A really huge, fat baby. And, I slept not at all. I must have managed just 30 minutes or so shuteye in the whole flight. How does anyone get THAT fat? Not only was I awake but also I was incredibly bored. There was no video on demand. The plane was so old it may even have been a bi-plane. There was just one movie at a time being displayed on a single big screen. I was a good twelve rows back from the screen and, being in the center seat, my view was obscured by the heads of everyone sat in front of me. It was like watching a bad pirate copy. But, as the “entertainment” consisted of the latest Mr Bean movie, I wasn’t missing much. 

I was very glad to get home. I was very tired.

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Entry filed under: flying, humour, travel. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken! Going Nowhere Fast

37 Comments Add your own

  • 1. thedailycommuter  |  May 15, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Oh, man! That is just awful! I don’t think I could have kept my mouth shut if I were in your situation. If the stewardess is not helpful, I would say something to the fat lady encroaching onto my space with her fat ass. I mean, really. Who wants someone’s ass to be that close to your face. I hope she didn’t toot during her heavy slumber.

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  • 2. jmwinn  |  November 25, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Hilarious post, Middle Man. A damn good read if I’ve ever stumbled upon one on wordpress.

    I’m adding you to the blogroll and hope you might consider the same. Keep up the sound observation!

    http://www.winnandtonic.wordpress.com

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  • 3. coolcrys  |  November 28, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    hahahahahahahahahahahaha! hilarious!

    i work for delta. but i am by NO mean your granmum’s desperate house wives!

    …i’m still giggling!

    and i’m so sorry about the fat broad ON your right!

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  • 4. Middle Man  |  November 29, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Coolcrys,

    I hope to see you in the air sometime!

    LOL

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  • 5. Curvyred13  |  December 30, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Just curious.. what should the fatty have done to make you more comfortable? Commit suicide right there?

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  • 6. Middle Man  |  January 1, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Well Curveyred,

    She could have tried to stay in her own chair and stayed out of my own private space!

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  • 7. Curvyred13  |  January 8, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Mean Middle Man.. Have you even thought of how SHE felt? I am sure she was as miserable as you were. You stated that she apologized for the first five minutes. What else could she have done. That is more than you would have gotten from most. Next time, picture the fat person as a sister or mother. Then it won’t be so hard to share your “private space”.

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  • 8. Middle Man  |  January 8, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Dear Curvyred,
    Curvyred are you for real?

    Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. I do not see why I should make allowances for her. I am sure that people making allowance has contributed to her obesity over the years. If I drink too much and become abusive then that is considered anti-social. Smokers are not allowed to inflict their poison on other innocents in most of the civilized world. So, why on Earth am I mean for not feeling sorry for someone who has chosen to overeat consistently over a number of years!?! Get real and stop feeling like the victim here!

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  • 9. Curvyred13  |  January 15, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    I AM for real and you are so rude. Did it ever occur to you that she might have a medical condition, or is on steroids for kidney disease. She just might not have a choice. I do NOT feel like a “victim”. I am just trying to get you to be a little more thoughtful before you judge a stranger. Things are not always as they appear sir.

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  • 10. Middle Man  |  January 15, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Dear Curvyred,

    I wonder what proportion of obese people are that way because of a medical condition rather than as a result of over-eating and too little exercise?

    But if she WAS one of the few then I wholeheartedly apologize. But , if she is not ………..

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  • 11. Peter the Pedant  |  January 15, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    In a debate about obesity, which this exchange seems to have become there are a number of facts to consider –

    Overeating is a relative phenomenon, where the appropriateness of any level of energy intake is judged against a person’s level of energy expenditure (i.e. if you consume more calories than you use .. guess what happens ?) Thus, an energy intake of 3000 kcal/d may be inadequate for a soldier or an athlete in training but would represent severe overeating for a small sedentary woman. This relativism must be kept in mind when interpreting the current epidemic of obesity, because there is good evidence that the low levels of energy expenditure associated with modern living (sloth) are at least as important as any willful overeating (gluttony).

    Overeating can therefore be both active and passive.

    Active overeating can be induced by a number of conditions: a cognate drive to consume above one’s natural appetite (driven by either internal or external cues – sometimes known as greed), a constitutional defect in appetite regulation (as occurs in many of the rare monogenic forms of human obesity), an inappropriate psychological response to stress, or a physical or pharmacological disruption of the hypothalamic satiety center.

    Passive overeating is a separate phenomenon, in which the consumption of amounts of food that would be absolutely appropriate against a background of normal physical activity has been rendered excessive by modern sedentary living (people suffering from this are sometimes known as lazy ******s)

    I am not sure which of these the lady in question may suffer from, it certainly sounds like she consumes more calories than she uses….. I am reminded of a quote that ‘there are no miracle diets or weight loss cures just eat less and move around more’

    In relation to this debate, I am of the view that whether you believe this lady should be the object of our scorn or our pity if you want 2 seats on a plane you should pay for 2 not encrouch on your neighbours. If she was cold would it have been acceptable for her to have taken the MiddleMan’s blanket and coat ? Surely we would have been reading about Larceny at 40,000 feet ?

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  • 12. Middle Man  |  January 15, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Dear Pedant,

    I am with you 100%!

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  • 13. Curvyred13  |  January 16, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    What about the golden rule friends? Treat others, etc… If we all would just treat each other with kindness and respect, the world would be such a better place to live. My mother in law suffered from kidney disease and the meds she had to take to simply stay alive made her whole body swell. She was unrecognizable in the end. It would hurt her so badly when we would take her out and people would stare at her. On the trips home, she would always be so upset that people were just thinking that she was fat and lazy. I’m just saying… We should all treat each other with a little more respect.

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  • 14. Middle Man  |  January 16, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Curveyred,
    I am SO honestly sorry to hear your mother’s story. Truly terrible. I also agree with you about the need for respect. However, people who abuse themselves through over eating do not deserve our respect. Sufferers such as your mom do. I think that 99 times out of 100 a reasonable person can tell the difference. And, we can feel bad about the 1/100 where we get it wrong. I was not wrong!

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  • 15. Curvyred13  |  January 19, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Did you ask her if she was on medication? How can you know for sure?

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  • 16. Middle Man  |  January 19, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Oh get real Curvyred! Imagine that conversation…….

    Middleman: “Excuse me but are you on any medication?”

    Fatty: “No. Why do you ask?”

    Middleman: “I was wondering why you are sitting on my arm?”

    Fatty: “Oh, that’s because I can’t fit in my chair because of my weight!”

    Oh that would have been so much better. Mind you I would have been more worried if she had answered that she was on medication – in the event of an emergency I would have been pinned in my seat by a stoned fat person. Meanwhile, in the real world………

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  • 17. Curvyred13  |  January 20, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Wow.. You are really a kind man.

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  • 18. Middle Man  |  January 26, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Oh for Heaven’s sake. Now some Quack in the USA has discovered that the common cold virus can cause obesity:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7851031.stm

    Now all those fatties out there have got the perfect excuse for lounging around eating!!!!

    I wonder if there has ever been a survey that proves that obesity is directly related to the amount you eat, what you eat, and how little you exercise?!?!

    Disclaimer: except for those on medication……(see Curveyred, I’m learning)

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  • 19. Curvyred13  |  January 26, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Learning.. sure.

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  • 20. lovesteph  |  January 28, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    I completely agree that any individual who does not respect their body enough to keep it in a healthy condition (size-wise, that is) should not be free to inflict misery and suffering on other members of society. This is especially true on planes. In Canada, there’s been some debating in the past while over whether or not obese people on flights should have to purchase two seats if their girth is going to spill onto another traveler.

    This would be a good measure, as it would at the very least cause due embarrasment and financial strain on the large offenders, perhaps giving them a little motivation to shape up for the next flight.

    However, I was angry when I found out the final, permanent ruling made it so that obese people get the two seats they need, but by only paying the normal fare for one seat. And when airlines start dishing out more and more double-seaters to fat people, and end up losing money on all the seats they could’ve sold to normal-sized people, who do you think is going to cover that cost? Like all the other costs associated with air travel, I’m guessing the fares will be hiked up so that even normal-sized people will have to help carry the burden (no pun intended) that the fat people bring to the plane.

    Now, apparently the ruling is supposed to make it easier for obese people with medical conditions travel comfortably, and is not intended for your run-of-the-mill, lazy-slob-type obese people. But with the discovery of Adenovirus-36, the so called “fat virus” (Middle Man has provided a link) who gets to claim they have a medical condition, and who doesn’t? If people take stuff like this seriously, couldn’t I just say, “well, when I was a baby, I caught Adenovirus-36 and ever since I’ve been a massive lump of flesh” and take a relaxing, two-seated flight to Hawaii at no extra charge for that extra room?

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  • 21. Curvyred13  |  February 2, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    You really should seek some professional help about your anger issue.

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  • 22. Love  |  February 10, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Horrible way to speak about another human being. Some people dislike older people. What happens when you get old and people will think you are less of a person because of it? Or maybe you will develop a terrible odor and someone won’t want to sit next to you on a plane. Maybe they would say you would need to purchase your own section of the plane so as not to offend them. No right to judge others because of their size.

    Airplanes should accommodate everyone and not charge people extra. Ridiculous. The comfort of everyone should be important and resonable accommodations made for all. Sometimes things are ideal but its not permanent. If you want more room, spring for first class instead of complaining. Or complain to corporate for being cheap.

    You can’t know what is going on inside a person’s body just by looking at them. I agree with Curvy too. 🙂

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  • 23. Middle Man  |  February 10, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Dear Love,

    I am sorry, if I smelled then the person next to me would have every reason to complain. Old people have never sat on me and squashed me in my seat so I have no objection against them. Being fat and smelly are life choices – getting old is not. People who make bad life choices SHOULD pay for them. Why on Earth should we suffer because of their bad choices. That is why most of the civilised world has banned smoking in public.

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  • 24. Love  |  February 10, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Yes, but old people can be slow, so you have to wait for them in the aisle, while maybe they use a walker, cane or wheelchair. Or their canes may be in your way on the plane. Or, someone may have an ulcer on the leg that will not heal. The odor could be horrible, but not their fault. Tried everything to heal it. There are people out there,no matter what you look like, they will find a way to be prejudiced against you. Someone will look at you and not like what they see and dislike you for it. You and me both. So what, you move on.

    How can you tell by looking at someone that they have made a bad lifestyle choice? You don’t have their medical records and are not their physician. Sometimes it just is not their fault. But we can’t say we know this.

    There is also sometimes a fault in the system where overweight people don’t feel satiated like people with normal appetites do. The appetite cannot be abated. Something is going on internally. People also soothe themselves mentally through food and overeat when depressed. I’m am actually a slightly underweight person, but I would never judge someone being overweight. It’s not our business. Lesson learned, fly first class if you want the most comfort.

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  • 25. Middle Man  |  February 10, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Dear Love,

    Jeeeezz, what is it with you people. It is simple. If I have paid for a seat on a plane, on a bus, in a cinema……..it should be my right to have that chair all to myself (unless I wish to share it, give it up for an elderley person or pregnant lady, etc.) without having my personal space and body infringed upon by someone else or their odour!

    I am not a bad person. Indeed, I can be a nice person. I would wait for someone infirm or with a disability, I hold doors open for people irrespective of age, gender, or, size. All I ask is a common decency from people around me. If I am sat in a chair I have paid for then please do not sit on me. If you cannot fit in the chair that you paid for, buy two!

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  • 26. Peter the Pedant  |  February 10, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    If MM’s airplane neighbour was cold would it be acceptable for them to take MM’s blanket, or infact his coat ? Perhaps if propensity to feeling the cold was a medical condition ?

    If they are hungry (more likely) could they help themselves to his food ?

    Perhaps they might have difficulty telling the time – could they help themselves to his watch ?

    Surely any of those examples would be stealing – why is n’t stealing his (paid for space) also theft ? After all to Love’s viewpoint he could always buy a new blanket, food, watch if he objected !

    I am in complete agreement with MM’s position on this.

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  • 27. Love  |  February 11, 2009 at 7:18 am

    That is not true Peter. It is the airline’s responsibility alone for all passenger comfort. Personal articles are not the same as a temporarily purchased seat that should have been made adequate for all in the first place.

    For example, when I go to a couturier or a high end department store, they exceed expectations and I am extremely pampered. They bend over backwards to help me. If a customer is in discomfort, they want to know about it. They do everything thing they personally can to make certain all their customers are comforted and well cared for.

    If you are not satisfied with the space provided, how is that another passenger’s fault? It is on the airline to provide a service for everyone which includes adequate space and not double-charging.

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  • 28. Middle Man  |  February 11, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Dear Love,

    I have to disagree. The abuser should pay. Your analogy of the high end department store is absolutely spot on. You expect things to be tailored for you in the places where you expect to pay for the privilige of the service. This would be akin to travelling first class not cattle class on Delta airlines.

    I have been giving it more thought and think that it comes down to simple Darwinism – survival of the fittest – and survival of our planet.

    If you charge the fatties for two seats they will have less money to buy fast food with. Therefore, they will lose weight and be able to fit in a non-super-size seat. Believe me, super-sizing is a concept that they embrace.

    This will have the added advantage of helping to save the planet. Fatties make an out-of-proportion/over-sized contribution to global warming because their carbon footprint is bigger than that of average Joe. They weigh more so it takes more fuel to carry them around. They take less exercise so are more dependent upon mechanical transport means. They eat more McDonalds – the Retailer which has been proved to contribute more than any other source to litter on the streets of the UK.

    So, it is in the interest of the planet and not just my personal space TO CHARGE THEM FOR TWO SEATS! And, you need to be cruel to be kind sometimes.

    😉

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  • 29. Love  |  February 11, 2009 at 11:00 am

    So are you saying you have received what your company paid for? In essence, an unfortunate and bad arrangement for you that the airlines were well aware could happen and just did not care.

    What happens when YOU are not the fittest anymore? Nobody is on top of their game forever you know. Karma will have her way.

    By the way, I also dislike your term fatties. Being a tiny person, should I pay less for a ticket because of my light weight? Because it cost less to haul me around. Plus, ultimately, the airlines are now justly rethinking things and are allowing two seats for free and comfort for everybody. YAY!

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  • 30. angrykate  |  August 7, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Love it! Haha! I totally agree. And look at all the angry comments.
    I think people who are overweight have themselves to blame. The rest of us manage to stay a healthy weight and not impose on others. Why should overweight people get special privileges?

    They should pay for two seats and made to feel shameful and embarrassed as much as possible. It’s the fat people of the world who are causing global warming (demand for food and overuse of cars because a 30 second stroll to the local shop is just too much for them) and they burden our health systems. Why should my taxes pay for somebody who has no one to blame but themselves for their condition?

    What’s more, why should I pay a lot of money for a seat on a plane, only to feel uncomfortable the entire journey, just because lard arse sitting next to me couldn’t stop eating cheese burgers at McDonalds?!

    Here.. happy reading…

    http://angrykate.wordpress.com/2009/08/04/fat-people-cant-beat-them-pity/

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    • 31. Middle Man  |  August 7, 2009 at 8:56 am

      Thanks Angrykate – it’s good to get these things off your chest

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  • 32. Dad  |  September 9, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Oh my…poor little you.

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    • 33. Middle Man  |  September 10, 2009 at 7:31 am

      Firstly, you’re not my dad.

      Secondly, you weren’t there.

      Thirdly, what point were you failing to make?

      But, thanks for taking the effort to pop in and leave a comment.

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  • 34. Lisbeth  |  February 18, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Wow..this just made me laugh!

    (Not laugh at your misery inflight, laugh at the argument in the comments).

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  • 35. rocksandpaper  |  February 18, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    This is great!

    First of all, Karma may be the cause of many things, who knows, but I think it is pretty obvious how people get fat. Karma has nothing to do with it.

    Secondly, when one goes to by clothing, generally, the more material involved in that product, the more it will cost. Thus, the larger one is, the more they will pay (unless, of course, they decide to stop wearing clothes and stick with bed sheets). The same should be true for airlines. Consume more product, pay more money.

    People would object to an obese person attempting to squeeze into children’s clothing. In fact, if certain parts of them fall out, they might be in trouble with the law. They should not try to attempt to squeeze into a seat that is not build for someone there size.

    Think of it this way. Its as if you were sitting on a park bench and an obese person comes and sits down next to you. Rather than moving toward the end, where there is enough space, they choose to sit halfway on top of you and refuse to do what is neccesary to give you proper space. When the police that you called with your one free hand finally arrive, what do you think might be the result?

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  • 36. rocksandpaper  |  February 18, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    P.S.
    I had a similar experience this past christmas. It was only a 2 hour flight, but it sucked nonetheless. To top it off, this individual had brought a mcdonald’s bag with her, slept for a while, then ate, and went back to sleep. I hate the smell of mcdonald’s most of the time, but there is nothing worse than the smell of cold mcdonalds that has had a chance to ferment in the paper bag. eeeewww

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  • 37. Idiot  |  November 7, 2011 at 12:17 am

    I guess your the european that took my Job.

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