travel woes

January 4, 2008 at 5:59 pm (travel) ()

question for the day: why do people in crowded airport waiting areas feel so entitled to use a seat solely for their belongings?

i regularly patron four airports, and find this to be the case.

is it related to object love? sort of a my-Coach-bag-shall-not-touch-the-floor kind of thing?

is it an action that reinforces a space bubble? Americans, famous for their colonial pioneer spirit, tend to like their space. they can go to great lengths to identify ownership of space through other devices such as brands, fences, gated communities, and space bubbles that (to my jaundiced eye) appear bigger than in places where people actually have to get along together.

is it a power thing? (i was here first, so my briefcase and ken follett paperback stay put, dammit!)

or is it a variety of things, all of the above, or the stunning absence of community?

anyhoo, what’s coming across to me today is that people in these airports are communicating one big thing: they’re afraid of each other. it’s there, in the staking out of territories of naugahyde, and fences made of carryon luggage and half-consumed foodstuffs. it’s in the lack of eye contact, the absence of solicitousness one hopes is present at least for the elderly.

okay, so i’m writing this in what is shaping up to be a gigantic storm here in California.(CNN coverage of the storm) hopefully it will resolve by the time i have to try and get home on sunday.



  1. Elaine Vigneault said,

    It’s simple: the floors are often very dirty, few people ask others to move their stuff, and now that it’s a trend everyone does it.
    That, or people could be complex and varied. They could all have their own reasons.

  2. onejewishdyke said,

    Space bubble in my case. I have what I think of as people-claustrophobia. I don’t like them to be near be unless we already have a close relationship, and the idea that I’m going to be sitting in close proximity to a stranger for however many hours already has my spikes up. Sometimes I will sit on the floor (with rugs you don’t notice if they’re not the cleanest) to have a little extra space around me. It’s a huge relief for me when I’m traveling with a friend or family member and I know I won’t have to have a stranger so close to me. If I get to choose my own airplane seat, and there is a side of the plane with only two seats, I pick that side, next to the window, figuring there is the least chance of someone touching me there. The person in the aisle seat is probably trying to spill out into the aisle, not towards me.

    I don’t have a Coach bag either for my carry-on. More like a ratty Eddie Bauer backpack that I’ve had for 15 years and sewn feminist patches on. That’s somewhat effective for keeping people at arm’s length too.

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