We all have encountered them.
The people at the airport who look as if they are impersonating refugees fleeing war by interpreting the internal cabin rule of "one carry-on bag and a personal item" to mean four shopping bags, a satchel, a large suitcase, and a purse that could include a sizeable portion of Imelda Marcos's shoe collection.
How they cope with the limited space on board, I have no idea. And it is not today's topic.
I am far more interested in what happens after they get through security and before they board. All of that baggage needs to go somewhere. And where it goes in waiting rooms is on the seats surrounding them. Sometimes on the seats facing them. They are what we generously call seat hogs.
Under normal circumstances, their imperialism takes away seats for four or five other people. About a year ago, I posted a photograph in the Manzanillo airport waiting room. A northern couple had seized four seats with their luggage, forcing a young Mexican family to huddle together in the remaining two open seats. Most of the comments were (not to put too fine of a point on it) emotional. I finally deleted the post when at least a quarter of the comments blamed the Mexican couple rather than the arrogant tourists.
I am currently in the Los Angeles airport on my way further north. It appears that one of the beneficiaries of the social distancing rules are seat hogs. This is the Sunday before Thanksgiving -- usually one of the busiest flying days of the year in The States.
Based on my last four trips north since July, there are more people in the airport than on those trips, but not by much. The place still looks as if it is underserved by at least 60%.
I bought lunch at one of my favorite eateries in Terminal 6. Everything is essentially take-out because all of the tables and chairs at the restaurants have been roped off. Instead, passengers who buy food wander about 100 feet to the nearest waiting area to chow down.
I would call that counter-productive, but the chairs in the waiting area have been labelled with stickers that look like parking violations. Sitting cheek to jowl is not a possibility for people who are inclined to not be compliant.
You can see the result. If a seat hog wandered in with his carry-on collection, he would have more than enough space to rest his stuff before doing battle with the gate clerk while trying to board.
I should have turned the camera around to shoot my position. I had occupied the chair on my left for my spaghetti and meatball tray, and the seat on my right for my backpack. I looked like the poster boy for You-Too-Can-Look-Like-A-Stymate-While-You-Travel. And I had the virus to thank for my entry into a club that has raised my hackles in the past -- if hogs have hackles, which I doubt they do.
In about a half hour, I will return to my role as The Compliant Traveler. For just one magical moment, though, it was nice to feel that frisson of being someone else.