Monday, June 30, 2008


There are a lot of things that make me cringe.

My 7-year old one-arming a half-full pot of coffee 'cause Dad talked him into getting him a refill (SOO not gonna happen again; I've BEEN in burn units...).

Singing the words to Nickelback's "Animals." Out loud. Even without the kids in the car!

Listening to my kids sing all the words to "Rock Star." (mom of the year, I tell ya!)

Stepping on the bathroom scale.

Being buzzed by one of our local nasty big-ass-wasps, the Cicada Killer:

**shiver** I know they're "docile," but still...

Anyway, in my frequent travels of late, I have encountered two separate cringeworthy moments that that are similar enough to be addressed in one category: the morbidly obese person trying to squeeze into a small seat.

Truthfully, I don't know what makes me cringe more, thinking about what must be going through the mind of the person trying to squeeze in, or trying to imagine what it must be like to have to tell this person to give it up.

I was on a flight recently where the woman who checked in at the ticket counter before me had requested an exit-row seat. I know her motivation: exit row seats often have more legroom. Unfortunately, they do not have anymore width. In a perfect world, the ticketing agent would have kindly had the woman review the specs of exit-row seat responsibilities, which specifically include that the exit-row passenger must not present an obstacle to the accessibility of the exit. This woman, at around 5'4" and 375#, clearly presented an obstacle. Yet I am sure that she was just thinking of her own comfort when requesting this seat assignment.

We boarded the flight, and the woman tried heroically to wedge herself into the seat AND fasten her seatbelt. The flight attendant came along and gave the customary "do you accept the responsibilities of the exit row assignment and are you willing to help others in case of emergency?" All replied in the affirmative.

Here, I am compelled to digress. Briefly. I sit in exit rows frequently. I answer "yes" to the above questions. I lie. If there is a need to actually use the exit rows, I will be plowing over everyone I can to save my own ass. 'Cause I don't like flying. And I especially don't like flying under dubious or dangerous conditions. Use of the emergency exit assumes that dubious or dangerous conditions have occurred or are imminent. 'Nuff said.

So anyhow, I overheard the flight attendants having a whisper-argument. The one who lost (presumably) approached the woman and tried to discreetly explain to her that she was, in fact, and obstacle, and would have to be reseated. The woman pried herself out of her seat and switched places with a thin passenger, and kept her dignity as best she could. Inside, I was cringing for her. And the flight attendant.

Similarly, I was recently at the local amusement park and watched a woman of comparable dimensions (as above) try to ride a rollercoaster with her daughter of about 8. Rollercoaster rides are simply not for large people, unless they are the type where you sit on a bicycle-type seat and are held in by an over-the-shoulder harness. Our local amusement park is not that fancy. We have traditional trains-on-tracks coasters, which require the riders to fit into seats that are made for non-childbearing hips. Men, kids, and skinny bitches.

Did I say that?

The point is, my hips squeeze uncomfortably into most of these rides. I am not fat. Maybe a little fluffy, and I have had two children, but seriously. These rides make me feel sort of like a foot in a shoe that could stand to be about half a size bigger. This poor woman was more comparable to a pair of DD's trying to fit into one of those cute C-cup bras.

Ya. So not gonna happen. I speak from firsthand experience.

Gotta give it to her, she was persistent. She was able to somehow feign that she had managed to maneuver more than one buttock into the space provided, but seatbelts and lap-bars don't lie. Or forgive. The ride attendant had to inform her that not only could she not ride, but that her child was too short to ride without an adult. The poor kid was taken out of the seat and placed in a car with a single adult rider (read: stranger). If it had been me as a kid, I would have freaked. This child looked irritated, yet strangely nonplussed. I suppose it wasn't the first time. Which is cringeworthy in and of itself.

At any rate, this is not an opinion piece. Please don't be offended. I see both sides, which is really why I cringe in the first place.


Monnik said...

I was at the amusement park this weekend and saw the same thing happen - but to a teenaged boy. I felt so sad for him - he tried to pass it off like he didn't care, but still. It made me cringe.

BTW, I love the song Animals it's my favorite on my workout playlist.

BlueBella said...

This is totally my boss. He is an awesome guy, but he is HUGE. Whenever we go anywhere out to eat he always makes sure to say where we're going to sit (definitely NOT a booth) to save himself from trying to fit somewhere none of the rest of us has to think about.
It's a double edged sword - I feel bad, but also know how important taking care of yourself is, and that includes your weight.
Good post!

Travis Erwin said...

I not hugely fat though I am overweight, but I have really long legs. I wear a 42 inseams and they cause me all kinds of hell on rides, airplanes and backseats of cars.

Mom In Scrubs said...

Blue: welcome back!! I've missed ya!

Travis: my dad is 6'4"+ and I remember how hard it was for him to fold himself into some of those rides!! He also has to car-shop by driver head and leg room specs.

JaneyV said...

I could do with losing a few pounds (or 30) and I know that my adoration of food has got me here. But when i see people who are as obese as you've mentioned - I've got to think that their problem has to be emotional. That's why they find it so hard to lose weight. These people need councelling as well as health advice I think.

But what do I know?

thanks for stopping by earlier. I'm back posting again now! :0)

SUV MAMA said...

I don't know if I feel sorry for them. I have never been that "huge" that my ass wouldn't fit into a roller coaster- even at my biggest. But I motivated myself to lose weight- and therefore I have little patience with people who can't get off their asses and do something about their condition. Of course it's emotional. That doesn't excuse it!

I feel sorry for the child. How embarrassing to have a fat Mom like that!

My husband is 6'4, and he hates airline travel- even in 1st. I don't think it's the same. He didn't chose his height- that woman chose to be over 300 lbs.

Damn. I'm mean. Or is is just realistic?