“If you count a sense of personal space as important, then air travel is not for you,” thought Birdie as she tried to get settled in her assigned seat on the small regional aircraft branded Canadair. The cramped area that each seat made available to its occupant caused Birdie to marvel at the suggestion that Canadians could be that diminutive.
Birdie and the young man sitting next to her unintentionally brushed thighs, accidentally rubbed arms, and unwittingly played footsie while trying to get comfortable. Neither one of them acknowledged any of this inadvertent touching and Birdie was glad when it was over. The young man? Well, who knew if he even realized any of it had happened. Maybe it was a generational thing.
The lack of personal space extended to the terminal as well. Birdie found that people would practically hop in your hip pocket as they were trying to make it quickly down the concourse. Birdie was swept along heading for gate B84, when all of a sudden, the person who had been speeding ahead of her and with whom she had been unconsciously trying to keep pace, stopped suddenly to search the monitor for his gate information. Unfortunately, Birdie couldn’t stop quickly enough and forward momentum planted her bosom between his shoulder blades.
Because she is hard-wired to apologize, Birdie mumbled an embarrassed “Excuse me,” while simultaneously trying to act like it hadn’t happened. Then she stepped back, avoiding any eye contact with the stranger she had almost been intimate with, and continued down the concourse.
Birdie noticed that the only place in the whole flight experience where people seemed successful at keeping others at a distance was in the seating areas at each gate. There, the travelers were vigorously reclaiming their personal space and expanding its boundaries by strewing their luggage over several seats. It didn’t matter if other people had to stand. No. “My luggage needs its own seat. My purse needs its own seat. So does my sack lunch from Heidi’s Deli. And my coffee from Starbucks.” Birdie guessed everyone was enjoying some breathing room before being crammed into the next airplane, where the only personal space obtainable would be in their heads.