Fancy a cuddle?

I travel quite a bit and I am a people watcher. The combination of these two things has helped me to draw some conclusions about human behavior in the travel context. One such conclusion is that men seem to think they have been given special dispensation to encroach upon their female co-travelers’ space. I have often seen a man crowd into a woman’s space on a plane with a kind of “what-you-going-to-do-about-it" attitude. It’s not that I am trying to roll over on my gender here, but come on guys, really? Who do we think we are that we can invade someone’s space like that. I have probably breeched the invisible borders at some point, but I can say it would have been a brief incursion and completely on accident. All this to say that I believe it is not right to encroach on others’ space, especially whilst in a confined space, no matter the other person’s gender. Glad I got that off my chest.

Well, the other day I was given the “opportunity” to consider my position articulated above even further. One of my fellow pilgrims boarded the bus and sat down with abandon, culminating in what felt like a most unwanted and unsuspected brotherly embrace. I look at him like, “are you for real?” His nonchalant glance suggested that he was indeed.

So, there I was smashed up against the side of the bus pondering the question of what is one to do when one’s basic human rights are being infringed upon in such a blatant fashion. I came up with nothing. As I stewed on this, I got to sample his extraordinary hot coffee breath. Nice.

As we settled into this most unwanted cuddle, our collective heat began to be mighty uncomfortable. Then, he nodded off to sleep and his legs splayed open further to the point that I was having to make do with a third of my God-given space. It was as I pondered whether my space was in fact an inalienable right or not, that I turned my thoughts to a higher power to save me from this unenviable position I found myself in. Alas, I was not to be spared the indignity this time, but it was my lot to ponder those who endure such barbarity on a regular basis.

To that end, my thoughts turned to the woman I saw on my last flight to New York. She was small woman seeking cover from a space usurper and she looked as though she had a developed a semi-fetal defensive posture that could stand the test of 5 hours of flight time with a most inconsiderate male traveler. I was unable to recreate her yogatastic defensive pose and thus would be forced to endure in silence whilst Señor Desconsiderado slumbered like a jolly giant.

Armed only with Spotify, I tried in vain to manage the crisis. I listened to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” hoping Mr. Infringer’s dreams would be disturbed as a consequence of his impolite behavior. The Sandman never came to make things right. I tried Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.” Still, I worried about this thing. In desperation, I tried to find some Buddhist Monk chants, but even those did not help. Thankfully, right about that time we were just exiting in Seattle. My heart quickened, “could he be off on the first stop?” Nope. Next stop? Nope. I get off on the second to last stop and he got off one stop before me. As I pondered my potential defense in a court of law for assault, I tried to compose myself and get ready for a big day of trying to rid the world of Polio. It was going to take a two mile walk to get myself ready for civilization again. But, I am pleased to report I got over it sans assault and battery.

To close, it is my plea to my fellow dudes that we be cool to our fellow female travelers and not be as Señor Desconsiderado and become a space usurper. Because, frankly, the answer to the question posed in the title of this blog post of “fancy a cuddle” will almost certainly be no. I will speak for myself, “no, I did not fancy a cuddle.” Just a modicum of respect brothers, that’s all that is asked of us. We got this.


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