Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Armrest Principle

You know how people are always trying to categorize all humans into two neat little buckets?  Like the "Haves" and "Have Nots" or the "Hunters" and "Gatherers" or the "Glass Half Full" or "Glass Half Empty" types?

Well tonight, I propose a new category principle.  I think I could actually make a PhD thesis out of this one.  I propose the Armrest Principle.  In today's world of insecurity and yet, inexorable feeling of entitlement, I give you the "Armrest Takers" and "Armrest Givers".  Not the most elegant of names for sure...and destined to total obscurity outside of the 3 readers of this blog, but I think I've hit upon something here.

Think about this.

When you get on a plane there are at least three seats across unless you happen to be on a tiny plane or are fortunate enough to afford business or first class seating.  These three seats pose an immediate pscyhological and physical dilemma. And while whether or not to have unbruised knees is one of those that I have to face each time (being nearly 6 feet in length), the one  I'm speaking of is the elbow rest issue.  There is one armrest between each two people and unless you plan to have a gladiator type battle for the space, there is a more subtle struggle that ensues.

There are those who will blithely take the armrest for their own without any sense of guilt or even necessarily a concious decision, just an indisputable feeling of birthright to own the armrests adjacent to one's seat.

There are those who try to foster the illusion of personal space by withdrawing from the armrest without a fight and are actively praying that the Armrest Taker will not encroach further upon their seated area and (gasp) rub elbows with them.

And there are the very few who do not lay first claim to the armrest, but rather like a parasitic being will only take ownership of it once a seatmate has warmed the plastic armrest and then taken leave for a quick bio break.

What else might we be able to infer about those different personality types.  Do Armrest Takers tend to be members of a loving family?  Are they Type A's with a true drive to take all that they want? Are they sociopathic and lack the empathy to consider other societal needs for space and armrests?

Do Armrest Givers defer all of their wants and needs to others?  Are they low-level worker bees without ambition and direction?  Are they of the mind that the meek shall inherit the earth? Or are they sociopathic and lack the social skills to request equal time and space for their travel comfort.

And what about the Armrest "Stealer"?  Is this an underhanded dirty-dealing slime bucket?  Or is this more likely to be a shy introvert who hopes no one will notice the bold move to take 3 inches of territory without battle or flag?

You decide.  It's 2AM NY Time despite what the local Denver clock says, and I'm going to take over the entire double bed in my room...and maybe at about 3AM, I'll take over the other one too.


Kate Hanley said...

I agree. You have an entirely new category of people here based on what they do on an airplane. I think I'm an armrest giver because I don't want to engage in a fight. Then again, I don't fly that much and lately when I do, it's with my kids. I can't wait to see what others have to say about this.

Jane- 2 of 7 said...

You could also use this theory in the movie theatre. Since I go with friends, I usually grab one arm rest and leave the other. You might want a sub-category for this.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I assume everyone should get one armrest--and one lucky person gets two. Then again, I never recline my seat because I hate to take more room from the person in back of me.

Susan said...

I am with Jenn, I think the recliners need to be a sub-category.

I will not recline, but as I am a large woman, I need some armrest on one side or the other so I can shift in my seat so I am not spilling over and touching anyone (horrors) or stuck with my arms crossed mummy style for the entire flight. I always book an asile seat for that reason and let the middle person have the armrest.

Do I pass the test?