Middle-seat neighbor, about the armrest

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Look, Flight 552 seat neighbor, I get it. You’re Plan B. The Jan Brady. Clown on the left of you; joker to the right. To a great extent, I’m stuck in the middle with you. No sharp elbows here.

Aisle be there for you, from DFW to SFO. Turbulence, in-flight magazine announcements, whatever that smell is: Let’s go through it all together. Because, like you, I have no window on the world. Unlike like Type A over there winging it on the end.

I watch the world pass me by. My fringe benefits are hip-checks to the face, garbage-passing duty, and bathroom hop-ups.

Yet when that final bell bongs, Tis I who will jump up and get our place in line to stand, look toward the front of the plane, and wait for 15 minutes. Because that’s what you do – at least, that’s what I do.

I feel you, middle. It’s not easy being between a rock and a hard place. Which is why we need armrest solidarity. For our seat neighbor partnership to really take off, we have to share a strategy. Which is:

This armrest is mine. Get off it now and stay off it.

Unlike country club under glass over there. Look at them. Happily gazing down at the green patchwork below, then snapping down the shade and plunging us into darkness. Do they ask if we can see out? We’re still on the Tatmac for all I know.

Which is why it’s your right — nay, your duty — to jab your spillover into that lap of luxury.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m loyal to Row 22. 22 flyin’ the blue, baby! I am shoulder-to-shoulder as we row this slave ship home. At least for 22 west. You wouldn’t believe what’s going on across the meridian over there. Hard-boiled eggs. I kid you not. I’m about to shell out for that “upgrade” to Row 12. $36 to move up where I can see through the curtain and smell success instead of sulphur. Don’t get any ideas about shifting right. I’m being rhetorical. I’m not actually moving. Who would pay for that? (Even if it is protection money against getting dragged off on camera, as rumored.)

What I’m trying to say is: It’s all about the left armrest. Go West, young person! Take it! Do not encroach this way. What gives you the right?

Ready? I’ll go with you. 22A is nodding off. Let’s pretend turbulence dumps us 2 inches port-side. Oops! Left arms move in. Then never surrender.

What? You remain… neutral? Don’t put you in the middle of this? You are in the middle!

OK. No worries. Ear buds in, real buds out.

Hope you enjoy wearing that Coke Zero when the cart comes by. And your little bag of eight pretzels? It stops with me.

Written by

Former WSJ reporter and syndicated columnist working in the blogosphere. Once sold books to Johnny Cash. My Medium post about that was praised by Paris Review.

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