It’s late in the day and I have a flight back home. Tired after a long meeting, I am ready for a good drink. As I enter the plane, I realize that I have a middle seat on row 22 – all the way back of the plane. As I sit down, I keep praying that no one shows up on either the aisle or window, allowing me to get a better seat and maybe some elbow room.
As the plane gets full and different types of people keep filling the plane with their distinct features, unusual luggage and unique aroma, the plane is packed like sardines. The person sitting at the window is a 300 pound giant! This unusually large human being has body parts that are bigger than either of my children.
As the flight gets ready to take off, I realize that I can’t find one half of my seat belt…I am worried that I may have to deplane because the seat is defective. I realize that the Giant is sitting on it; layers of a cushioned body cannot feel that hunk of a metal, all twisted up. I gently ask for my seatbelt piece; but is responded by a confused Texas twang, “WHAT?” I can tell that my South Asian accent hasn’t sunk in. so I repeat, “Excuse me, you’re sitting on my seat belt”. “Oh!” with a frown and after struggling to take off own belt, hands it to me.
We settle down and the plane takes off. Now I realize that the intruding elbows are poking my arm and the gargantuan legs are definitely invading my air space. I wish I had a miniature F-16 and I would send a message by striking down those invaders. How dare they invade my air and seat space!
Stuck in a middle seat and not able to go anywhere for a while, my mind starts to wander.
As a serial traveler, I clock, on the average 200,000 miles a year. Typically most airlines have me as a premium flyer and give me all kinds of status and metallic levels. But American Airlines is not one of my favorites and has one of the oldest fleet and worst service crews (they must be in competition with United to win the Worst Airline Award).
When I get on these planes, it feels almost the same as I used feel riding on a public bus in Dhaka, going from Notre Dame College to Maghbazar; too much touching and elbowing, at all the wrong places.
With new pandemic’s emerging every other day, airline cabins, I bet, are the best way to spread disease. Most of these aircrafts were designed and built before smoke free environments were in vogue. Thus the air-cabin filtration systems are not designed to bring in fresh air; instead they circulate and re-circulate air inside the cabin air over and over again. So, if you are germ, this is the hippest place to be! Airplanes allow germs to infect more than one person at a time. All you need to do is enter the system. Jackpot! Hundreds of tired and weakened travelers to attack.
At the end, the flight arrives safely and I disembark looking for my car in the garage multiplex. As I settle down in my black convertible and open the top and turn on the IPod to listen to my favorite tunes, I realize, that God has been very generous to me.
I have been given the ability to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth with blue skies, perennial sunshine and a warm blue ocean; I have two beautiful daughters, whose inner beauty outshines their physical features; I have a loving, caring and passionate spouse who tolerates my idiosyncrasies and supports by quixotical initiatives. I am healthy; I have good friends who care for and connect with me. I enjoy life by reading, listening to music, enjoying good food, boating when I get time, playing racquetball or lazy game of poker. I enjoy a good glass of wine with my dinner, a cigar with a good friend, when we sit around the fire and reminisce about old times.
If I am taken away tomorrow, I would not regret not living long; I would regret not watching my princesses graduate from college or not having the chance of giving them away to the men they love. I would most regret, not having felt the wrinkles on my beautiful wife’s skin when she turns 100.
So, if I have to sit in a middle seat, for a few hours, for one of the best jobs in the world, I need not complain. Imagine being that person next to me; they are probably more embarrassed to live in a shell like that. Their discomfort, in that cramped seat, has to be much greater than mine.
I really cannot complain about being stuck in the middle seat; next time, I will check in on-line and early, and get my own choice of seat.