An Unbiased View of Manspreading

So, Randy sent me an article that likens “Manspreading” to “Mask Slipping”.

It reminded me about an article I wrote years ago about “manspreading”, so I thought I would share it again.

I would guess manspreaders are often the maskholes that wear their masks under their noses or use to just cover their chins, but not their nose and mouth.

If your mask isn’t covering your nose and your mouth, it’s not doing anyone any good.

Don’t be a maskhole. Or a manspreader.

Anyway, here is the old article:

Randy told me about an article he just read about two men who were arrested in New York for ‘manspreading’. I hadn’t heard the term ‘manspreading’ before. When Randy starting talking about manspread, my head went to a completely different place than some douche twizzle taking up two public transportation seats. The story context cleared my misunderstanding of the word up quickly, which is good, because I was going to disturbing places.

I’m not saying that it isn’t rude to take up more than one subway seat just so you can sprawl out, but arrested? Isn’t that taking it a bit far?

I searched out the articles and found one titled ‘The war on men: manspreading’.

I admit that I struggled a bit when I read the ‘war on men’ part. I didn’t know if I wanted to rant or snork at that. (I don’t care what spell check says, ‘snork’ is a word).

In the end, I just clicked off the article. I’m up way too early on a weekend morning and I don’t think I could get enough coffee fueled energy to make it worth my while to work up a rant.

All that being what it is, I have a good manspread story.

Nearly 33 years ago, when pregnant with my first son, I parked my car in Covington, KY and rode the bus across the river to my job in Cincinnati.

I picked the bus up right at the base of the Roebling Suspension bridge. The Suspension bridge is the one in Rain Man where Dustin Hoffman hums to the bridge sound as you drive across it.

I was 8 months pregnant and it was late June.

I even remember that I wore a pink maternity dress with a white Peter Pan collar. The dress had white squiggly designs that looked like chalk outlines at a murder scene.

I pulled my big bad self up the steps and, as expected, all the seats were taken. My stop was the last stop before Dixie terminal (where the bank scene in Rain Man was filmed).

Except all the seats weren’t really taken. The front of the bus, where there are 3 seat benches that face each other, one man took up all the seats on one side.

He had his big stupid legs spread apart, which took up two seats, and had his briefcase opened on the third seat.

I asked him if I could sit down. He looked me up and down and kind of sneered and just shook his head. I was not even worthy of his words.

Another passenger offered their seat, but I had already grabbed a bar. I thanked them and said I was fine.

It could have ended there, but no, the douchebag taking up three seats started muttering under his breath. But not really under his breath, because I heard every word. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but this is pretty fucking close:

I have important work to do. It’s a two minute ride, I’m sure you’ll be fine. Just because you got knocked up doesn’t mean we all have to bow to you. 

I was 24 years old at the time and painfully introverted. I was afraid to say anything in my defense, so I just held on and pretended to not hear him.

Then the most beautiful thing happened.

I think Karma is bullshit, but for a shining moment, Karma was alive and well and firing on all cylinders.

The bus stopped in Dixie terminal and Mr. Manspread closed his briefcase. Only the briefcase didn’t latch all the way.

When he stood up, his briefcase fell open. When he tried to stop the inevitable avalanche of papers, he dropped his briefcase on the bus floor.

The little old lady who offered me her seat took the first good shot. She stood up and kicked the briefcase all the way up to the bus fare doohinkey. She didn’t even pretend like it was an accident.

I stepped on as many papers as I could as I exited. The people behind me were kicking as many papers as they could. The man was yelling and laying across the bench, trying to pick up his papers. A few people yelled “OH, EXCUSE ME” as they tore his shit up, but mostly, they were just laughing. Even the driver was laughing a little.

I don’t think that man deserved to go to jail. I don’t think he deserved to be fined. If we start getting arrested because we’re being a dick, then we’re all doing time.

I think my Mr. Manspread got an appropriate punishment.

I can still see the beads of sweat on his forehead and the panicked look on his face.

It’s one of my favorite pregnancy memories.


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  • Ahhhh yes… there it is. My morning snork. Thank you. I so needed that. And with a side of gleeful Hell Yeah! retribution. You are awesome.

    Also, manspreading. It’s annoying. It’s just kind of obnoxious. I mean, really. Your balls aren’t THAT big.

  • I wonder if Mr. Manspread learned anything about cause and effect that day – or if he thought you were just all a bunch of dicks. GREAT story!!

  • I do love a good story about Karma getting her licks in and this one is awesome and epic. If he had left it at refusing to share his 3 seats he would have been a douche, to sit there and mutter-bitch he’s lucky he didn’t get a handbag upside his head. Especially when you mutter-bitch at a 8 month pregnant lady in June.

  • woo, instant karma is the biggest bitch, isn’t it?

    Yeah, I don’t think people should be arrested for simply taking up more than one seat. Removed from whatever means of transit, sure, but actually cuffed and hauled off? Nah. At least not for the “first offense.” If their accompanying actions tip the scales in that direction, though. Sure.

  • I rode public transport for years and years, and most of that time I always carried my Timbuk2 sling bag with my tools and maps and things in it. It’s a fairly large item, and I needed it for my job(s). But you know what? There’s almost always room under a bus or subway seat to fit it, and if I couldn’t get a seat, I just left it slung over my back, which made me take up a little more room, but not that much. I guess my point is that you can be less of a dick if you just think about it a little…

  • Ha ha ha, if ever there was karmic justice he got his.
    Shame it’s not as swift or satisfying more often.

  • I totally believe karma is a thing, having been blessed and burned by it.

    But what I’m more interested in is your dress: chalk body outlines? Was it a Keith Haring print? Just say yes because in my mind it totally is.

  • Another great story and an OH Yeah! for the manspreading! Think of those tiny seats on flights, I always book a window seat and I just love when a male has to sit in the middle seat. Not only do they think they need both arm rests, they are giving as much air space for their legs as possible, with some of MY space used. I maybe little, but I paid for MY space and I am going to use it to move around. Okay…..yes I have had my time in the middle seat, with my arms tight to the chest as the males have all the arm and leg room, so I do give a little on the arms, but if I am going to be nice…….at least get my damn carryon out of the overhead compartment. I am just amazed at the self importance of others. The only thing better that could have happened……your water broke and those important papers now had you on them! I would not have sat down next to him after the attitude!

  • Ha! I’m not a big believer in karma either but eventually dickheads get what’s coming to them. Oh wait is that the definition of karma? Maybe I DO believe in it then! Great story!

    • I WANT to believe in’s a cool concept..but I know too many people who are happy assholes and who continue to be happy assholes.

  • Love a happy ending! This put a big smile on my face. And who saves “important work” to do while riding a bus anyway? What an asshole.

  • I wish Karma was always that swift!
    I love this story. But it’s so not cool that people are getting arrested for being rude and ignorant.

    Actually, it’s not the WORST idea. But in NYC, where violent crime has been reported to be on the rise this year? Probably not a great idea.

    As usual, this is awesome. Zebra Jizz!!

  • I love your story, karma is really a bitch (was for him at least). I ride the bus only twice a month or so to run an errand or whatnot. What drives me bananas is the jerks who take up the seat next to them and put there belonging in the other on a full bus. ‘Thanks I don’t want to sit in a seat, I just stand while you and your purse take up two.’ I agree a fine would suffice for manspreaders. Some people are just rude.

  • Oh justice indeed. What a silly little (well, ok, big) man. Love how everyone stepped in to spread the wealth of papers. You’ve reminded of the time I worked at a tour bus company. One gentleman came in and booked a seat on a city tour. He was huge. Huge. Rather than write down the fact that he was big (I worried he’d somehow see such a comment) I simply booked 2 seats for him. His tour ended up being overbooked so my colleague phoned everyone confirming seat numbers etc. He told her he was single. She naturally sold the second seat. It was my day off. She was horrified when she boarded the bus to see a teeny man squished up against the window as my fellow took up 2 seats. Awkward. The driver said tiny man had an hellish trip and we quietly gave him a full refund.

  • A Snork is like a Smurf except it’s more colorful, lives under the sea and has a tiny snorkel growing out of the top of it’s head. I didn’t make that up. However, I did grow up in the 80’s and my childhood nostalgia has been out of control lately.

    In Total Dicks Getting What They Deserve News, my husband and I were at the Sprint store, buying a him a new phone when a Total Dick walked in and immediately started yelling at some poor salesperson who had no idea what he was talking about. I think he couldn’t figure out his fancy new smart phone. As we were leaving, we saw the Total Dick accidentally drop his $600 phone in the parking lot and break it. The look on his face was priceless.

    Maybe we are Total Dicks, too. We couldn’t stop laughing.

    Also, there is a special place in hell for people who don’t yield to pregnant women.

  • I’ll have to look up that NYC story. There must be more to it than just taking up more than once seat at a time.

    But I love the karma story. If it really was just a two minute bus ride, how much work did he actually expect to get done? It’s often better just to sit in the lobby for a couple of minutes before going to your client meeting or whatever.

  • Years ago my husband and I got the foolish idea to train to be motel managers. While we were in training the motel manager was checking to see if all the people who were supposed to leave that day had checked out. She found one guy who was passed the time to check out and called him on the phone. He cussed at her, so she went over to the room, knocked on the door and told him he needed to be out. He cussed at her some more. Pretty soon he comes stomping out of the room and jumps into his car and the engine won’t start. Since his room was already locked he had to walk over to the office and ask the manager to use the phone.

  • This is a great story, but I imagine he still thinks that he was SO wronged by a bunch of mean people that day and that he was such an INNOCENT victim. This story made me feel like punching the sky with a big “YES!” – and to think a loud “Go, Granny” to the lady who “accidentally” kicked the briefcase. SCORE!

  • Yes! Yes! Yes! I LOVE this story. A great example of karma at work! I can remember a few incidents in my 20s when I wished I’d found my voice. Now, you have a big voice and a great website/platform, and I bet he’s still a jerk!

  • A-snorks are just underwater smurfs.
    B-if you’re a dick and won’t give up a seat for someone else who deserves it, you deserve what you get. I’m personally scared of this manspreading thing getting so much attention because of how oddly wide I am. When I was 18 I worked in a tux shop, part of my job was taking measurements for the tuxedos and I found out that I have the sleeve measurements of a 6’4″ dude…I’m 5’9″. I’m wider at the shoulders than some doors and even if I squeeze in I still usually take up half the seat next to me. I’ve never stayed in my seat when someone else needed it and I always try to crush myself but I still get dirty looks from people sometimes when they think I’m not really compressing as much as I can.

    • Yeah..I can see how that would be frustrating. I’m very short, and even though I’m not a skinny girl anymore, I still don’t take up TOO much space.

  • Fantastic story. And I don’t mean to pat myself on the back, but I ride the bus regularly and always offer my seat to someone who looks like they need it. And I never take up more than a single seat if the bus is crowded. It happens so rarely–public transportation is a joke here–that it doesn’t bother me to give up my seat once every two or three years.

    Also I’ve eaten in the diner where they filmed the toothpick scene. I love the mural of Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise decorated with the actual toothpicks. Thanks for the memory.

    • That place is called Pompillio’s and it’s my dad’s favorite restaurant. My first apartment was just a few blocks down the street from there.

  • I so freakin’ wish that Karma was the name my mama gave me, because I’d so much love to open that can of whip-ass on a few dozen dicks that I know. This is the BEST pregnancy and Karma story EVER!!! I would love to have been on that bus.

  • Great karma story! No I don’t think they should be arrested but given a warning then citations then fines and then banned from public transportation. I go crazy with man spread! I will squeeze my big hips next to the man and ask him for a tiny bit of room. If you ever read or hear about an elderly woman being squished to death by sitting between 2 man spreads on the bench seat on the Portland Max train, you know it was me!

  • All I can say is ‘Thank God!’ that dickhead got what he deserved. I was so angry! I would have to agree that arrest is a little much for ‘manspreading’ (and it’s okay because I think my mind went to the same place…ahem) but it is most definitely rude.

    • I was happy, too. If that happened now, it would have gone differently..I would have said something to him. Well..other than if I were pregnant NOW I wouldn’t be able to talk because I’d be crying all the time. haha.

  • Sort of sad, that story. I wish someone had stuck up for you when they saw you had no voice. You must have looked adorable in that dress … and so young. I imagine it was hard to even ask for some of the space he had owned. Maybe now man spreading has been brought to everyone’s consciousness as more than just selfish shitty behaviour, other travellers will have the courage to challenge the dickheads and support the innocent.

    • I was so fucking timid back then. I agree, we should stick up for each other. I have and I will continue to do so..even though one day I’ll probably get my ass kicked. Haha.

      My SIL and I stopped a man who was hitting a woman outside a bar and I thought we were gonna get stomped, but it turned out. I tried to give the woman a ride, but she wouldn’t take it.

  • Fuck. I forgot to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Maybe more than I should have. Which tells you just how much of a bitch I probably am.

    (Also, I regard manspreading as the symptom of a much larger problem.)

  • Wow that was instant karma indeed. I commuted two hours each way on a bus to work each day and I’ve got some duzzies to tell you about manspreading!

  • It’s always a joyous thing when someone gets what is coming to them – especially if you don’t have to do the work yourself.

  • How did I miss this one? I’m sure I was crushing on you in 2015 <3
    I do indeed love a good Karma story and this one had all the good feels!
    And the comments?
    Struck me that it was pre dum-dum.
    And now it's post dum-dum…
    And we have good ol' Karma rearing her beautiful 9 heads <3

  • My “man-spread” story. My young daughter sat between my two sons in the back seat on a summer day.
    “Mom, their legs are touch me.”
    “Come on. You can put you legs closer together boys.”
    “Mom, if you had balls, you wouldn’t say that.”
    “I’m pretty sure your balls don’t need that much space.”

    I always think of that when I hear someone complaining about man-spreading.

  • Oh my god I love this story SO much!! The universe really can be a beautiful thing can’t it?! And having all the other passengers join in makes it even more satisfying. Like you, back in my 20’s I probably would not have spoken up – but now I definitely would!

  • This story is so brilliant I remembered it immediately, but I was glad to revisit it. Also it was just a couple of years ago that I took a bus to Cincinnati. The bus was packed and I seriously thought I was going to have to sit next to a guy who was manspreading. On a fucking Greyhound bus. It’s not quite the level of assholishness of your Mr. Manspread but, seriously, who the fuck has to sit with his legs spread apart on a Greyhound bus? And his girlfriend politely suggested I take another seat and I would have but there wasn’t another seat. Fortunately one did open up and I got away from him, although he should have been forced to put his legs together.

By Michelle


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