The obesity epidemic is a literal as well as a figurative problem. Theatres all over the country, at a cost of millions of
dollars, are tearing out their seats and replacing them with wider models. The airlines, too, are installing wider seats in
The tight space in airplanes became obvious to me on a recent flight. My wife, Debby, and I had aisle seats opposite each
other. Three flight attendants served our cabin. I would describe one as ample. The other two cheerful, efficient mature ladies
were more so. As they bustled about their tasks, carrying trash bags and energetically pushing their carts, they managed to
bash both my right elbow and Debby's left elbow.
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We quickly learned not to use the armrests on the aisle side and to keep that arm close to our sides. Despite this precaution,
my arm got bashed by a powerful and fast-moving hip and my shirt was splattered with coffee. I solved this problem by using
my left (or inside) hand to hold my cup.
Glancing down the aisle, I noticed that nearly all of the passengers had become aware of the risk posed by these two wide
and vigorous attendants. Armrests on the aisle were no longer in use.
So I say that the airlines need not only wider seats, but also wider aisles.
What's this got to do with veterinary medicine? Plenty!
When I opened my first little 500-square-foot pet clinic in Thousand Oaks, Calif., a half century ago, we furnished the reception
area in what was known as Early American décor. It featured a handsome fireplace mantel and two quaint benches, each of which accommodated four clients who usually had
patients on their laps or at their feet on leashes.
A decade later, my partner, Dr. Bob Kind, and I moved our practice into a beautiful new hospital. It won the Veterinary Economics Hospital of the Year award.
The reception area received the same two Early American benches that had graced our earlier rented quarters.
They are still in use today; however, although they once accommodated four early American clients, they no longer do. Today,
they usually seat three current Americans.
So, the whole purpose of this column is to share with my colleagues a bit of useful information. When furnishing the reception
area of an animal hospital, do not limit the seating to solitary chairs. In a few decades, they will become obsolete. Use
benches. They are more widely versatile.
Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker, and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member from Thousand Oaks, Calif. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years
as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his website at