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On travel

Apr 20, 2010

The war against reclining

After a horrific 10 hour bus trip in Laos with bandanna wearing Europeans who take up every inch of spare space, Kevin O'Faircheallaigh lets rip at those who put their seats back.

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bandanaPicture this. It’s 7 in the morning and you’re boarding your bus in Luang Prabang, Laos for the 10 hour trip back to Vientiane. It was a tough ride on the way up, so your apprehension is peaked for the return journey.

There’s also the fact that the guy driving the bus bears a striking resemblance to the guy you saw passed out drunk in the markets the night before. You’d worry, but the petrol fumes pouring through the air conditioning unit are bludgeoning your thoughts, which is also a bonus because the trip through the Laos mountains must be where the phrase ‘the valley of the shadow of death’ comes from.

But you have your seat, and with no one in front of you at least you’ll be borderline comfortable for ten hours. Then they board. Two continental Europeans. Noisy. Late. Wearing matching hot pink bandanna’s. And with only two seats left on the bus guess where they’re sitting?

The guy wastes no time and as soon as he’s sat down goes into a full body lunge, feet pressed against the seat in front of him to maximise leverage as he pushes his seat back until his headrest is lodged between your veterbrae. Infuriating.

Now you would think when this happened to me, I would just say “Ummm, excuse me Hans. I can see your enjoying your extra seat space, and I hate to be a bore, but your currently cleaving several of my most vital internal organs in two. By the way, matching headbands, how courageous! They look great.”

But I couldn’t. Firstly, I avoid confrontation like the Catholic Church. Secondly, there’s like a 10-15% chance this guys name wasn’t Hans. And finally, the bandanas looked ridiculous, and I’m not fond of lying. That in itself is a lie, but you get my point.

So instead I have to suffer because of someone else’s selfishness. But I have had enough, and it’s time to do something about it. I’m calling my new plan, “Operation Enduring Comfort”. My partner is calling it “Can we stop talking about this? It’s been weeks since we were on the bus and I’m trying to pay for our hotel.” Fear not though fellow freedom-lovers, I will not bow down in the face of hostility, or in this case, overwhelming disinterest. Jesus had his detractors too. He was called Judas. Not that I’m comparing myself to Jesus. Or my partner to Judas. But if the sandals fit…

Messianic complexes aside, the solution seems simple now that I’ve thought about it. All we need to do is move the seat recline controls from our own seats to those behind us. That way if someone wants to recline, they’re forced to confront the person who it will affect the most, kind of like when perps have to confront their victims in jail.

I can see Hans smirking face now. “Excuse me Kev, I was wondering if you’d mind if I made your trip infinitely more uncomfortable so that I could have a troubled snooze at 45 degrees rather than a fitful one at 35. Hmmmmm?” At which point I would fake him out my pretending to push the button and then say “Mmmmm…no. HAHAHAHAHAHA.”

Upon hearing this my partner suggested maybe there should be just one big button and either all the seats were down or up. She’s always had a whiff of the totalitarian about her though, and upon further questioning I was left with no doubts as to who would be in control of the button. So after she fell asleep that night I whispered forcefully to her that we couldn’t abide that kind of thinking in the Coalition of the Sitting.

So this suggestion goes out to all plane, bus and train builders. Move the seat controls. And to all you civilians out there, there can be no more sickening Swiss neutrality, it’s time to pick a side. There’s a war coming. As far as I’m concerned, you’re either with us or, both figuratively and literally, against us.

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