Friday, February 24, 2012

Merger throws a monkey wrench

Yesterday I was dealing with the big ball of suck that is an airline merger.  Nothing like paying a used car's amount of money to travel only to have them, you know, completely lose an entire leg on your trip!  In my lung bubbling best, I called the airline and 90 minutes later our return leg has been reassigned.  (A big up to E.E. who was a total pro the whole time and really went out of her way to make sure our schedule was as minimally impacted as possible.  I made sure to say she needs a raise on the recorded call)

The one change neither the Mr or I are thrilled about is an inter-island connection that isn't first class.  It's a short flight so it shouldn't be too bad but it brought back some rather unpleasant memories.  One time we did an inter-island flight they ended up not being able to seat us in first class and we weren't even at our heaviest yet.  (Still 400 lbs though)  We missed a connection and got in late and had to check in through Honolulu and we're direct to island kinds of people.  Now we had to do that walk of shame down the aisle where people don't look you in the eye, give you dirty looks or break out into a cold sweat while mouthing "please don't sit by me, please don't sit by me."  We weren't even able to sit together, he was in the seat ahead of me and thankfully we were both on the aisle so we didn't have to impose ourselves on the people beside us.  We're used to holding hands on take off and landings.  So I quietly snuck my hand under his arm to hold onto him as we took off.  I felt like I had been thrown into the ocean with no life preserver.  When you're that heavy, you cling to familiarity and routine.  Any wrench in that routine is met with panic and being overwhelmed.  I wanted to cry.  Seriously.  I wanted to commiserate with him about how much being buttered into the seats and leaning to the opposite side so you didn't impose on your seatmates sucked ass while holding his hand or putting my head on his shoulder.  That was the whole reason we flew/fly first class is to not get "the looks" or the judgment. But to this day hearing the phrase "coach class" sends me into cold sweats.  As I chatted about this situation with the Mr yesterday he said  the lady he sat beside "looked me up and down and gave me the most disgusted look I have ever received in my life.  I never forgot that look."  She was judging him/us like because we were that fat he didn't deserve to be treated like he deserved to breathe the same air.  If you're reading this you self righteous, piece of crap witch, I hope you have been made to feel just as crappy as you made my husband feel and I wouldn't mind if all of the weight we've lost has somehow found you so that you can know that people over what you consider an ideal weight are actual human beings and have feelings.  Perhaps you could consider them in the future and become a decent human being yourself.

Anyhoo...

I know we're much smaller than when that happened before but the people you pass don't know that.  To them, you haven't lost 200 lbs, you're just some fat person that should "just" do ______ to lose weight.  Maybe I should wear my "If you think I'm fat now you should've seen me 200 pounds ago" shirt?  I would say I can't wait to get to that point where I don't remember how that feels but that's not true.  I never want to forget how that felt.  That there are people out there who will take one look at you and think because of your weight, you are not fit to be anywhere near them.  I don't want to forget so I won't ever become as shallow, heartless and disrespectful as those people.  I love that when I see someone who is morbidly obese I say a little prayer that they find their way because a better life is waiting for them.  That tells me that I will never lose empathy for what it was like at my heaviest, even when I'm at goal and beyond.

Have you ever gotten dirty looks from fellow airline passengers?

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17 comments:

  1. The only time I ever went on an airplane was at the age of 11, and I don't think anyone gave me dirty looks - after all, I was only reading my book and napping. ^^

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  2. First time commenter... This post really hit home with me and I thank you for your honesty. I hated flying at my heaviest and relish it now I am lighter. I am starting to truly understand now the difference between the way people approached me at my heaviest and how they do now and have to admit I am thoroughly disgusted :( I loved your words around seeing a morbidly obese person and saying a prayer... I am the same... Thanks again for this honest post :)

    And p.s. - Yes, I got the looks too :(

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  3. Thank you for sharing this post. I don't fly very often (not at all these days), but I did have one experience in which I was placed in the middle seat of a row. I wasn't spilling over or anything, but we were jammed in there pretty tightly. The man to my left did the exaggerated eye roll thing when he had to stand and let me in and shortly after, got up and walked to the front of the cabin. He returned in a moment or two and said he'd found me a seat up front. I wanted to tell him to take that seat then, but then I realized the new seat was behind the bulkhead and I'd have precious leg room.

    At the time I was very embarrassed, certain that my size (about an 18 at that time) was the reason. Later, I realized he probably would have been a jerk to anyone of any size who had the misfortune to be in the middle seat.

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  4. This is a fantastic post, and I hope it helps people realize that there is always a human being with feelings inside whatever exterior there happens to be. Can you imagine how the situation would have gone if your husband's row mate have given him a big, honest smile when he arrived at his seat, instead of a dirty look? Though sitting with a larger row mate might be uncomfortable, it's 1000 times more uncomfortable for the larger person and it's within a person's power to make that a little more tolerable. I can't understand why wouldn't people want to do that for a fellow human being.

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  5. I'm usually the dirty looks giver/under the breathe mutterer. Whenever I fly, I only wish the worst of my problems was sitting by a larger person.

    Somehow the gods of airline karma (no, I don't really believe there are such beings) see fit to place me next to or behind the rudest people on the planet.

    Between invading my space from the side (if it's a heavy person there's a reason. If it's a skinny person there's just not), and invariable being seated behind someone that feels free to kick the seat back as far is it will go I don't think I've ever had a comfortable flight. Last time I flew I couldn't even get to my bag under my seat to get chapstick or bottle of water or a new book when I finished my first one. I also couldn't put down the tray table for drink service. I spent the whole flight bored, with dry lips, and thirsty. Then I was sore for days after due to the contortions I had to make to fit my 5'9" frame into a midget's space.

    I only wish someone kind and engaging like you or the Mr. had sat next to me instead of the witch and witchier that did.

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  6. I honestly don't know whether I've received 'the look'. At my heaviest, I was 5'3" and 195, about a size 18. I can tell you that I was very uncomfortable, though. I don't like being in other people's personal space or having them in mine, no matter what size they are, and those seats are not made for anyone heavier than a professional model or taller than me. Blame the airlines for shoving more and more people into smaller and smaller spaces. It's like cattle cars, seriously. We may never get to Hawaii unless a previously-unknown rich uncle dies and leaves us as his only heir, because we prefer to drive everywhere. I'm uncomfortable enough on airplanes...at 6'4" my hubby is miserable.

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  7. You're amazing. I've never gone through anything like that and I can't imagine what it's like, but I'm glad you wrote about it. I think we could all stand to have more compassion for one another.

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  8. Last April, at my heaviest 265, I flew to Napa Valley for an amazing ladies weekend for my sister's 30th birthday. I hated it bc I was alone. I had gotten used to flying with my husband who is at a normal weight and he always compensated for my extra butt room because that is where I carry all my weight.

    On this flight I sat next to one of the performers on "So you think you can dance" and when I tried move to get more comfortable he just looked at me with disdain and he kept creaping closer and closer to the window like I was invading his space bc our hips were touching... sorry they are tiny tiny seats (Im a school teacher so I have never flown 1st class) But still remember that look.

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  9. I have certainly been in situations before where I was judged only by my weight. Actually reading this post sparked a memory of when I was about 9 years old and on the swim team. Yeah, a fat kid on the swim team, glutton for punishment!

    There was this teenage girl in the stands (who was actually rather large herself, oddly enough) and she was making fun of me in front of the entire crowd and saying that I shouldn't even be on the team because I couldn't possibly swim very fast.

    It made me so mad I took first place in the butterfly. That shut her up.

    But other situations I've been in have just been nothing but me taking the punishment and not fighting back. My means of fighting back was to eat more food and that is definitely not the way. Now I am a bit closer to normal overweight and I am passed the point of caring what anyone says or thinks of my weight now because I am proud no matter what and will never again allow someone to shame me for who I am.

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  10. You know what, they don't know you. They don't know your story and they don't know that you've lost so much weight and they are people who don't matter at all in your life. So if anyone gives you crap, well, eff them. Eff them! I'm sorry that you're stressing about this when you should be psyched about going on vacation.

    When my husband and I were in Austria several years ago, before I lost weight, there were some American tourists making fun of me at a bus stop. I'm sure they thought I was Austrian and wouldn't understand what they were saying. I let it ruin several days of the trip by dwelling on it. People suck.

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  11. I can't even express to you all how much your comments mean to me on this subject. I was very nervous to put it out there because I didn't want to get some big airline to-do out there but it needs to be told from the point of view of the people who are treated like walking contagions because of their weights.

    I'm not really worried at all about the flight, it's just not going to be my favorite part of the trip but given it's the first part of our return trip home, it'll suck anyway! HA!

    You all are amazing! Truly.

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  12. I've gotten the looks, too. It's not like the airlines give enough space for anyone in coach in the first place, but when you're heavy, it's even more miserable. I'm nearly at my goal weight and hope that I never ever forget what it was like to be heavy. People who have never been there don't have a clue about what it's like.

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  13. Ohhhhhhhhhh I hate those looks! I'm at my highest weight right now, and the trip down was the WORST, most uncomfortable trip down because of people like that! However, on the way back I had the enjoyment of sitting by some of the nicest people I've ever met on a plane.

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  14. Thank you for being so honest and for speaking of this so freely. I am at my heaviest right now and am just beginning a new lifestyle that will hopefully help to get me back to where I need to (have lost 6 lbs. and am thrilled!). My husband is "normal size" and the looks we get sometimes, people may as well say it out loud - it's written all over there face. You can almost hear them, "What is a good looking man like you doing with a cow like that?" The looks are horrible and make me want to crawl up under a rock, but my husband - God love him - puts his arm around me, snuggles up close and tells me he loves me and to ignore the fools. So, that's what I do. Your post made me realize I am NOT alone in this. I can DO this and get healthy again. Thank you so much for your blog!! It just may be saving my life.

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  15. Omi- I am so sorry you've had to endure the same and I don't think you'll ever know just what your comment means to me. Congrats on the loss! Keep up the great work!

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  16. Yes, I sure have gotten the looks on a plane. You already feel bad b/c you don't want to take up anyone's space, so you try to squeeze all of your excess in your own seat. I had this lady keep looking over at me, and it was so uncomfortable. It's painful physically and mentally. People think it's just so easy to just drop the weight. It's easier to travel if my husband is with me and we have seats together that are just 2 in the row, but we went somewhere and there were 3. Uncomfortable!!! My sister had an instance where she was traveling, and she got on the plane, and went to her seat. Her seatmate got up and went to talk to the stewardess. Then someone in the military who was sitting in first class came back and asked her if she wanted to switch seats with him b/c obviously the person had been complaining about her. (This was before takeoff.) She said she was very embarrassed but grateful for the person who gave up his seat just because he felt compassion for her. I was on the phone with her today talking about this blog. I wish people would just have compassion in this world. There are even the people who lose a significant amount of weight and seem to forget where they came from and start giving out the same cruel treatment that they once suffered. I hope to never be that person. Sorry this was so long.

    Cresha20

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  17. Cresha- It breaks my heart that people can relate. There is just nothing worse than people feeling like its a free for all to openly give you dirty looks simply for existing. I only hope those horrible people experience the same judgment in some other facet of their lives to possibly make them think next time they judge others so harshly. I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a certain amount of satisfaction when they call for first class and we stand up because you can almost hear an audible gasp like "the FAT PEOPLE can afford first class!?" (You know because some how overweight apparently also equates to low income in people's eyes. WTF!?)

    As far as the people who lose it and begin treating other heavy people poorly, I'd like to think those people will regain their weight in a huge hit from the karma train. It's the only thing that keeps me from going off on them when I know that is the circumstance they came from.

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