A recent flight of mine got delayed due to some mechanical problems with the plane’s engine. Since we were already on board and the issue was deemed fixable, we simply stayed at the gate for an additional 45 minutes before taking off.
The passenger in the seat behind me must have had short legs, because they kept pressing their knees into the back of my seat.
It wasn’t a hard, jolting “kick” — just a random press into my back every ten minutes or so. It almost felt like one of those massage chairs you’d use at the mall.
My initial thought was to let it go. The passenger was getting adjusted to the seat, and would soon find a comfortable position and stop all the random movements. I’d forget about it and the person behind me, and it’d be over.
And for a while, I was right: it did stop.
Then it started again. A kick to the back of the seat here, a long press into the seat there. I knew it was time for the inevitable.
I don’t like needing to address fellow passengers on flights for breach of manners. Not everyone operates by the same principles of decorum, so what I see as an issue could be, to someone else, normal. Someone could just as well take offense to the very idea of even being addressed for their behavior, as who am I, some random stranger on a plane, to call them out?
I, like you, just hope that objectionable public behavior by a stranger is a one- (or two-) time aberration that will go away on its own. If it doesn’t, though, I’ll address it in a firm-but-always-polite manner. 99% of the time, this does the trick.
After registering another kick to my seat back, I loosened my seatbelt, paused the music in my AirPods and turned around to see who I’d be talking to. I was in the aisle seat, so it would be easy to talk directly to that person without it drawing too much attention. What I saw in the row behind me changed my mind.
There was a short woman in the middle seat, flanked by young children, both girls, in the window and aisle seats, presumably the woman’s kids. At the moment that I’d turned, the woman had her head down, talking to the smaller of the two children (maybe 4 years of age) who was seated at the window. The older seat-kicker child, maybe 6 or 7 years old, sat in the aisle seat behind me. This older child was leaning over towards mom too. None of them even noticed me turning around.
I decided I could live with the intermittent seat-kicking. It pretty much stopped after takeoff anyway, with the young girls either falling asleep confiding something productive to do with their energy.
Moral: Don’t judge actions too harshly until you understand why they’ve happened, who’s behind the actions, and how that person may have a completely different view of things from you.
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