Dana Martin Writing

"Waiter, drink please!"

A [mostly amusing] blog about travel, life, and TSA pat-downs
Dana Martin Writing

“S” is for Snuggly Seatmates, Seasickness, and Screwdrivers

Grateful April in the A-Z Blogging Challenge

Yes, I thought I’d blow right past “S” and move on to “T” today for Travel, but that was before boarding my flight from San Francisco to Dallas. See, San Francisco was just a layover. The rest of my trip takes place in Dallas, where I am attending HauntCon — a national convention and trade show for haunted house owners and Halloween enthusiasts. But first, my travel follies, Part 2.

Clarissa, this is your novel.

It didn’t take long to know I’d be writing an addendum to my earlier post on Travel when I stepped aboard a plane so small I wondered if the airline knew we were going across the country and not just over to Alcatraz. Four tiny seats per row, two on each side of the aisle. And by tiny, what I really mean to say is Barbie size.

As the passengers made our sluggish march toward the back of the plane, peeling off one by one as we found our seats, my eyes scanned the row numbers looking for 11B. On paper, row eleven seemed close to the front. In reality, I was at the back of the plane. And by back, what I mean to say is I think the airline removed a line of toilets to add my row.

When I passed row 8, I was beginning to narrow my gaze on my seat mate in row 11. Three people occupied the row, but 3 1/2 seats were taken. My seat mate in 11A was spilling into 11B.

Yep, there was no avoiding it. We would be snuggling on this flight.

I am not a big gal, but when I sat in my seat, we touched. I could tell he was probably uncomfortable with his overflow into 11B, so I decided that we’d better get to know each other before the impending nuptials. I gave him a cheery “hi!” and asked him why he was going to Dallas. About 20 minutes later, I wanted to poke out my eyes with a hot stick as he regaled me with the most minute details of his life, like how he can stay awake during every dream he has. He even made a pretend air-drawing on the seat back in front of him to illustrate his recurring dream starring Freddy Kruger.

“See, and then Freddy jumps out of the car and says, ‘You’d better not laugh.’ But of course, I laughed.”

During takeoff, I had only one armrest to white-knuckle because there wasn’t room to lower the one between my seat mate and me, so I did my best to move close enough to crush that aisle armrest like a drained soda can. This gave me about 2/3 of my paid seat space. Soon, the dreamer fell asleep, and that’s when the real fun began.

For the next three hours, he slept and dreamed–and I know he was dreaming because he twitched spasmodically and sporadically, sometimes violently. And the deeper sleep became, the more he relaxed and his girth spilled onto mine. At about the midway point, our plane turned into somewhat of a glider and started bouncing around the sky like a rubber ball in a pizza parlor, forcing my seat mate closer and my stomach queasier. I’ve been on the ocean several times in a boat, but I’ve never been this seasick–or this accosted by a stranger’s midsection girth.

What should I do? I looked at my watch. Hmm… 11:30 in California. But I was going to Dallas. It was already 1:30 in Dallas. I still had two hours to go.

Waiter, drink please!


  • Terry Redman

    I am thinking you have a series of gothic short stories about travel in your future. Cool post, filled with detail, good imagery, local color, and character. Scribe
    I have joined the blog challenge as of today.


  • Jonathan

    Thanks. Now I'm going to have nightmares about being accosted by tiny, animated fat globules that smile and laugh like the Pillsbury dough boy.

  • A month of....Blog

    So entertaining – I can just imagine it!

  • Kym Showers

    So so so painful…..ohhhhhhh I'm SORRY!!!!!!!! (awesome story, though:) hehe.

  • Mark Means

    Ugh…I'm so glad I don't fly. Things like that would only make me -more- nervous!

  • Jer

    Always look on the bright side. His head could have been on your shoulder and the galley could have run out of vodka.

  • Robin

    Oh Dana, this reminds me of my worst flight ever. It was also on a tiny plane. It only had one seat on each side of the aisle and then three across the back row. Who got stuck in the back row? Yep. Was there turbulence? Yep. I thought we were going down. Never been so scared in my entire life. That plane bucked around like a bronco. Safe to say no one slept and several people screamed more than once. The only that could have possibly made that flight worse was having someone taking up one third of my seat. I already felt trapped (yes, I was in the middle). However, I did have two armrests.

    You might not appreciate this since you don't hail from the south, but, Bless Your Heart.

    I mean that with sincerity. I feel ya girl.

  • Annis Cassells

    I'm with Robin on the heart blessings. This is a toughie. In fact, Judy and I were talking about this very circumstance just yesterday. You injected your usual humor into this post, though, and lightened the situation up. Bless. Your. Heart.

  • Sylvia Ney


  • Donnee Patrese

    Hi Dana, Just joined WOK and wanted to check out your blog. It was very entertaining and I understand what you mean about "tiny planes" My trip from Bakersfield to Dayton, OH was strangely similar. haha great post!

  • Kathy Wiechman

    Those little puddle-jumper planes can be a nightmare. We were informed once before boarding to please use the airport restroom in advance b/c the toilet on the plane was out of order. And they asked our weight so they could "balance the weight" on the plane. Your humorous take on this subject is the only way to handle such things. Kudos!

  • Jer

    Hey, Dana. If you fly Virgin America, you may never have to buy your own screwdriver or vodka-cran again, heh heh: http://www.clickorlando.com/news/virgin-america-flights-allow-milehigh-flirting/-/1637132/19871644/-/85i0f3/-/index.html

  • Anna K. Stewart

    Sounds like an awful trip but, that said, I'm intrigued at the thought of staying awake in one's dreams. Not sure what HE meant by it but that could be a cool element in a story…a character who remains aware and awake in his dreams…conscious perhaps of both the dream and waking worlds at the same time? I'd have fun with that one!

  • Danielle

    Bleh, made me queasy just reading this. I can hardly ride in a car without that feeling, but being trapped on a plane that small would be scary.

  • Jasmine Lowe

    I'm so sorry that you had to go through this uncomfortable experience. Your ordeal sounds so awful, but they way you told it made it kind of hilarious. These horror stories about planes, however, is one of the reasons why I hate flying.

  • sunlightizm

    Great Blog !!


  • Joan Raymond

    Even though your trip was a living nightmare, what a wonderful character this would be for one of your books (or backstory haunts). 🙂

  • meldrm

    Well, here we go. Tiny plane travel tales. Mine was a last minute decision to fly out of Tortola to Puerto Rico. The airport 'terminal' was a quonset hut with the largest cousins of cockroaches ever to hit the Caribbean (they'd taken over the men's room). The plane was a treat. Only one other passenger besides my wife and I. The pilot told us exactly where we could sit, then took my 'body bag' suitcase (it held golf clubs sand more) from under the plane and positioned it in the fourth seat to balance our weight. I personally loved the up-close view of coral reefs on the flight to San Juan. I had to describe them to Melissa, however, since she refused to open her eyes until we landed 45 minutes later.


  • Dennis

    Oh, Dana! I feel your pain. I had a similar experience flying from Tel Aviv to New York. I was assigned Seat E in the DEF sequence. Thinking I might get away with it, I moved to Seat D. A HUGE man soon arrived. "You are sitting in this seat?" he asked.

    "Oh, no," I said, and moved back to Seat E. The man sat down in Seat D, spreading half of his girth on me. He was so large, he couldn't fasten the seat belt. A flight attendant brought a seat belt extension. "Oh, god," I groaned to my travel mate in Seat F. "I think I'll take a sleeping pill."

    "With all this confusion," said Mr. Seat D, "maybe you should take two." I did. The first pill only got me half way to New York.

  • Iola Reneau

    You have my deepest sympathy, truly.
    But I would be lying if I said this didn't give me a smile and a chuckle (much needed by the way). Thank you for sharing your unfortunate flight in technicolor.

  • Kimberly Gabriel

    Hope you enjoyed HauntCon and your travels back were easy and drama-free…though I have enjoyed laughing at them!

  • Jessica Peterson

    I loved this post! I've travelled a bit and can totally relate. The worst experience I ever had was being stuck in between two people on a 17 hour flight. When I had to get up to go to the bathroom after telling myself I could hold it the whole way, the man I had to step over was half asleep. Obviously I woke him with my clumsy stumbling about but rather than get up and let me out, he made me step over him… how awkward. One of these days, I'll have to try first class just to say I did. 🙂

  • Frances Stiles

    I'm not a good flyer, but I've been in planes like that…ugh…That's one of the reasons we usually drive cross country. Have a great day!

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Dana Martin Writing

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