Aussie Stories, 2009Aussie Stories for Blokes, 2013
Should a plane I’m in lose its wings and start to plummet to earth, I’d probably exclaim, “Wow, this is much better than ‘zooming’ on Google Earth!”
Because of my love of aerial photos, the opportunity to fly always brings an un-normal urgency to secure a window seat. One time, this urge brought out an uglier side of me I didn’t know existed.
I’d arrived at the airport more than two hours before take-off and was delighted at the thought of getting a guarenteed window seat. As I checked in at the computer kiosk, I noticed I was in seat 39J. Halleluiah, a window seat, I thought and proceeded to do an imaginary hula dance while I waited for my boarding pass to be printed.
I was hoping the plane would approach for landing over our house this time. I’d seen plenty fly over but I wanted to be able to look down at what I would look like, looking up at people looking down.
As the flight started boarding I quickly joined the queue, wanting to make sure no one accidentally sat in my window seat first.
As I wandered up the aisle, it took extra brain power to find my seat due to the sea of vacancies.
“37... 38... 39!... or is this 38?” I always have trouble lining up the row numbers with the corresponding seats.
I went on one more row and found row 40 was just before an emergency exit. I momentarily pondered about the view if we could travel with the door open, then turned to sit in my seat, 39J.
WHOOSH! In darts a lady who takes a dive for the window seat. Slightly amused by her mistake, I pulled out my ticket and, with my best “I’m lost in a foreign country “ look, asked, “Is this row 39?”
She abruptly returned fire with “yes.”
Not one who likes conflict, I decided to humbly sacrifice my window view for the opportunity to get my elbow bumped by every service cart that travelled the aisle.
After watching the safety demonstration, when I’d normally practice looking out the window for the flight ahead, I was a little disappointed they didn’t ask for a show of hands of who thought they were meant to be in a window seat.
I glanced over and saw this woman had her head buried in a book. “Oh, that’s just swell,” I thought. “She’s not even looking out the window.”
I kind of hoped she would need to go to the toilet, as I’d planned quite a fuss as she tried to squeeze past. In the meantime, I was making every effort to look out the window over her, in the hope of an offer to swap places.
About halfway through the flight, and exhausted from stretching my neck, I conceded defeat.
I put my seat back and just stared at the roof, the little voice in my head muttering away at how I was the one who should have been seated at the window. I’m Mr 39J and here on the roof it’s clearly labelled 39J—Aisle, 39K—Window ... The voice in my head went silent for a moment as the realisation hit—I’d been sitting in my designated seat all along! I spent the rest of the flight muttering to myself about what a fool I’d been, and how I’d been judging this poor lady all this time and heaping bitter thoughts upon her.
Normally I pride myself on giving people the benefit of the doubt. People can cut in front of me in their car and I’ll assume they are heading to the hospital to see their dying mother.
A waiter can give the poorest service in the world and I’ll assume they’ve been evicted from their rental that morning. But here, in one moment of my own error, I had lost any claim of “being joyful always” and succumbed to negativity.
There was one positive, however. At least the plane didn’t crash while I was stuck in an aisle seat. Then I would have been really upset with my viewless seat allocation!