The Plight of Average Height


As some of you may (or may not) know, I work at my university’s post office. It’s been a decent job so far, all things considering, but one thing it has made me more aware of is my height. My coworkers are diverse in height; some stand over six feet while others just barely clear five. Usually this is a good thing. There’s always someone to reach something on one of the ridiculously high shelves, or someone who can crawl under the desk to retrieve a letter. The problems arise when it’s my turn to drive the mail truck. Depending on who drove it last, I either have to move the seat farther back in order to give my legs more room, or move it forward so I’m not straining to reach the pedals without leaving my seat.

When it comes to height, I’ve had friends on both ends of the spectrum. I know people who are so short that I actually have to bend down to talk to them, as well as people who have to duck down when they walk through the doorway. I’ve heard the woes of both sides, and each time I usually come out of the conversation glad that I don’t have to deal with those issues.

My height is at a strange place. Average height for the United States is, depending on what website you consult, between 5’ 4” and 5’ 6”. I stand a little above average height at 5’ 7 ½”. Luckily, I don’t have to deal with constantly bumping my head or standing on my tiptoes to reach something from the cupboard. When put that way, one would think that my height should be the ideal, right?

Hang on to your high heels, my friends. All is not unicorns and rainbows in slightly-above-average-height-land. I am not exempt from the problems of being short or tall. Instead, I get the best (and worst) of both worlds.

For one, I’m not tall. Meaning that although I can reach most things in the kitchen cupboards, I have a hard time getting access to anything that is fridge height or taller. There was a time (back before my brother decided to show me up in the height department) where I was the go-to thing-reacher for my mom. Most people assume that just because you are taller than them, you should have no problem reaching the ceramic bowl that someone thought was a good idea to store on the very top shelf.

The thing is, if you stand on your tiptoes you can maybe get enough height to brush your fingers against the bottom of the bowl, but that’s it. If you stand on a chair, you can easily reach the bowl (even if your head does brush the ceiling) but you are faced with the problem of the dismount. You’re so far from the ground that if you jump off the chair, you could find yourself in the situation of desperately trying to replace the bowl before your mother notices its shattered remains. Unfortunately, you’re too poor to afford a new one and there is no way that you are about to re-take high school ceramics.

Long story short, my average height has led to me having to be creative. And overcomplicate things, but hey, overcomplication is my specialty.


I also have to deal with the fact that I’m not short, either. I can’t squeeze through gaps in the crowd or hide myself behind a friend in the middle of a nerfgun-war. I’m small enough that I can think squeezing through a 8-inch gap is a good idea, but I’m tall enough to quickly realize that I made a very grave error in doing do.

Like it is with shorter people believing that I can reach tall things, those who are taller than me believe it is as simple as A,B,C, 1-2-3 to crawl into the low, dark corners that are only inhabited by dust bunnies and my hidden love for children’s cartoons.

That’s how I ended up hunched under our kitchen table last Tuesday, sitting through the most painful (both physically and mentally) reading of a children’s book I have ever had to sit through. And that’s saying something. Brooke, my sister, had to read a book under a table as part of her school’s “Dr. Seuss Week”. I would really like to have a chat with whoever thought that would be “fun”. Fun for the kids, maybe, but not for the 19-year-old who got shoved under the bus (or this case, the table) by her “taller”, “we-are-old-but-you-are-young-and-spry-so-you-do-it” parents.

My challenge to you this week: read a 25-page-book about the life-cycle of algae while sitting on hard tile underneath a table. For an hour. Then sit there and internally beg for death for another 15 minutes as your sister insists on reading through the glossary.

Long-rant-meant-to-be-short-made-average-length, those of average height struggle too. Next time you see your 5’ 7½” friend, give her a hug and a box of Triscuits. She will greatly appreciate it in this trying time.

Or maybe I wouldn’t trade my height for anything in the world and the whole point of this post was to swindle some Triscuits from you. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.


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