There I am, getting settled into my own little private 32in of sky. At 6'3", 215lbs, flying for me is a little like putting a goldfish in a shot glass, but I manage. My laptop’s out, and I'm ready to get some (albeit cramped) work done when -- wham!!! -- the seat in front of me crashes back like a trash compactor on the Death Star. My laptop is now literally under my elbows, the in-flight entertainment screen is at a distance my mom warned would ruin my eyesight, and what’s left of my Diet Coke is soaking through my pants. And it happens to me probably every other flight.
Which is mindboggling. How. Still. Today. How can the precious little real estate the airline so generously allotted to me be ripped away like I’m a nobleman during the French Revolution? And worse, how are there people who still think that -- just because the seat is equipped to lean back -- it's OK to recline into the legs of the passenger behind them. At this point in the history of air travel, EVERYBODY should know that leaning your seat back (especially without asking) is tantamount to bludgeoning the guy behind you with a lead pipe. And closing your eyes, putting on your headphones, and pretending it never happened only adds insult to injury.
I understand; the airlines do give you the option to lean your seat back, and you are perfectly within your rights to use it. You're also perfectly within your rights to spend most of the flight in the bathroom. Or chew your seatmate's ear off with your thoughts on nuclear proliferation treaties. But just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you have to do it. And sometimes out of courtesy to other people, you just don't.