After we'd all being miraculously stuffed into this 737, on stepped a young couple with a tiny baby boy. Was there overhead room for their 4 carry-ons? Nope. Were there seats available together? Nope. Thus, the father plopped into the middle seat next to me and his wife and baby, the middle seat directly behind. I was prepared for crying baby, which I got soon enough, but what I wasn't ready for was a seat mate more infantile on his own.
It began. He wouldn't sit back and instead leant forward with his shoulder on mine for the duration of the 4+ hour flight. This meant he was constantly in my peripheral vision and I was left feeling boxed in.
Next, he and his wife loudly talked to each other, which meant him turning towards me to look behind and over the seat, basically speaking into my ear. When they weren't idly chatting, they were passing the baby back and forth over the seat. The baby was adorable, I must admit, but when my seat mate had possession of his son, he did this cute-for-the-first-five-minutes-but-horribly-annoying-after-that thing of standing his baby on the traytable and administering sloppy little kisses all over the kid's face. Over and over. *smooch* *smooch* *smooch*…
Finally there came a break in the kissy festmealtime. The dad had thoughtfully brought food onboard with him, since the airline no longer serves any free food (not even pretzels). Alas, it was a stinky fish sandwich and fries from Wendy's. He proceeded to feed his baby the french fries one by one before ripping into the bag bit by bit to reach the fish sandwich. Every bite grated on my nerves; this was the loudest, wettest, open-mouthed chewing I'd ever heard, made all the worse by being unable to escape it. I took to loudly turning my magazine pages to drown it out for even a split second.
Now you askwhy didn't I just politely request him to chew with his mouth closed, stop talking into my ear and etcetera? Well, I tried but we didn't have any languages in common. It even got to a point where I would have gladly traded seats and taken his wife's middle seat to end the slow torture. Other nitpickings include his reluctance to get up when I excused myself to the bathroom; instead he enjoyed my butt awkwardly maneuvering around his face, made all the more complicated by his stowing two large bags at his feet, neither of which fit underneath the seat in front of him.
So why am I sharing this story? For a simple reason: there is always someone like this (and sometimes more than one) on every flight and I don't want you to be that person. Innocent home habits of rapidly tapping your feet, making sarcastic comments orhorror of horrorssnorting back snot, can, in the limited personal space of an airliner, drive fellow flyers crazy. This is how in-flight fist fights start.
When in doubt, it's always good to go back to the kindergarten lesson of the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And I think it's safe to say that no one wants "moist, loud chewing several inches away" done unto them.