Picture this: You’ve just boarded a plane, waiting for it to bring you to your next tropical island vacation. Amidst visions of palm trees, bikinis, and pina coladas dancing in your head, you decide to do a little people watching to pass the time, and of course to keep a look out for any obese passengers that may be assigned as your seatmate, which might ruin your vacation before it even starts. Thank your lucky stars and all the gods of the pantheon, but this time there are no anthropomorphic manatees sent from the pits of Hades to turn your plane ride into an elaborate torture experience that even Dante himself could not have imagined.
As the last of the passengers shuffle onboard, that’s when you see him: The Guy With The Portable Pillow.
Perhaps the pillow is already slung around his neck, ready for action as soon as he sits down. Or maybe he removes it from his carry-on luggage first, casually placing it on his seat before stuffing his bag, likely some faux-hipster messenger bag, into the overhead compartment. He settles into his seat, pillow nicely in place, and a smug, self-satisfied look plastered on his face. One look at him tells you that the chance of him reclining his seat to the maximum extent possible as soon as the ‘Fasten Seat Belts’ light goes off is roughly 99.9%. This time, you thank the gods that he isn’t sitting in front of you. You imagine that if he were, you would pick a quiet moment during the flight, when the cabin lights are dimmed and most people are asleep to stand up and smother him to death with his own stupid pillow.
Well guess what? I’m that guy, the guy with the portable pillow. And this is my defense.
First of all, I want you to know that I have an extremely legitimate, super serious, real medical doctor certified condition. It’s called a slipped disc (which means very bad pain at night while trying to get some sleep), and I happen I happen to have one in my C4 – C5 vertebrae. Needless to say, that makes air travel extremely uncomfortable unless I use my favorite neck pain pillow (just in case you’re wondering, it’s this one here), what with airplane seats being almost as tough and hard as the bulletproof cockpit doors they have on planes now. That’s right, I need it for a pain-free travel experience, so do you feel bad now? If you don’t like it, feel free to talk to my doctor!
A C4 – C5 herniated disc, (C4 – C5 meaning that the affected disc is between the fourth and fifth vertebrae on the cervical spine) can result in not only neck pain, but shoulder pain (due to nerve impingement) as well. So my trusty pillow, which provides support for my cervical spine, helps with both the pain in my neck and shoulder as well. If you ever had a slipped disc before, I’m sure you would empathize. If you never had, well, you better pray you are never subject to such an annoying experience. Annoying, you say? Why, yes, a slipped disc is no debilitating condition, and I would never subject myself to such self-pity. It is however, highly annoying, make no mistake about it. That’s why I use my pillow even when I’m driving too, and yes, I have seen drivers shoot me weird sidelong looks as they pass me. To those drivers, allow me to extend my middle finger as a gesture of my appreciation.
Secondly, I would like you to know that yes, I do indeed have a smug, self-satisfied look on my face when I bust out my pillow and relax contently into my seat. And why shouldn’t I? After all, for the price of a crappy airport meal, I can turn my coach class experience into an almost business class level of comfort. Not my fault you didn’t make a smart investment; instead of snickering and making derisive remarks under your breath, why not try one of these pillows? You may be surprised, and you may never travel without one again.
And thirdly, I will recline my seat as much and for as long as possible, thank you very much. That’s why airlines added this feature right? And it’s not like the guy in front of me is going to keep his seat at a perfect 90 degree angle, just for my sake. I sometimes wonder if the guy all the way in the front is the one who sets a chain reaction; reclining his seat first and causing a ripple all the way to the back of the plane. Except for the guy in the last row of course, that unfortunate soul is usually unable to recline his seat; he’s like the guy at the tail end of The Human Centipede.