I was sitting in the window seat of a plane, when I saw a huge man coming. No, I corrected myself: he’s not huge, he’s fat. I am trying to be politically correct, as the American standard demands.
Oh no, he is sitting down next to me.
“Are you comfortable?” I ask.
He replies, “I am very comfortable.”
I would like to exclaim, “But I am not! I am suffocating like I’m in a can of sardines,” but instead I fume silently.
Planes make me feel trapped, but with this huge man sitting next to me, it’s a hundred times worse.
I consider calling the flight attendant to complain. Hey, why do you let this man pay for only one seat? He is taking up half of my own seat.
I really wish I could sit in the aisle seat. There, I could at least stretch my legs and breathe.
I ask the man if the woman sitting in the aisle is his wife. Maybe, he could switch seats with her. Then he would have more room, and I would too.
He says the woman next to him is not his wife.
I am trapped.
The plane starts to take off. I forget the fat man, as I pray for safety. After a few minutes, I feel some relief. Soon I will be in Phoenix, where I will board another plane – hopefully one less cramped − to my final destination in Mexico.
I try to sleep. If only I could lean on the huge man’s shoulder. That way, I could forgive him for taking up some of my space. That would make me feel less cramped.
Again, I start to wonder why airlines companies allow overweight individuals to buy only one seat? It is out of a lack of respect for the rest of the passengers. They steal our space!
Suddenly, the plain starts to jump. The pilot asks us to fasten our seat belts. Turbulence. We’re starting our descent. I grab the arm of the huge man. I tell him, “I’m sorry, but I feel scared, and I need to grab you.” He does not reject me. He understands, and we start to talk. I forget my fear of flying. I forget that I am sitting in a very tiny space. A few minutes later, the plane touches down.
As I exit the plane, I breathe in the fresh air. I feel relief and freedom. I see the huge man leaving, I grab him again, and tell him, “Thank you!”
Edited by María Ginsbourg, Journalism graduate
from San Francisco State University
Araceli Martínez Ortega is a Mexican journalist who has lived in California in the last nine years. This collaboration is about her personal journey through Las Americas and wherever she goes.