Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Joyeux Noël

"Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you a question?"

The man in 32D looked a bit nervous. If this weren't an airplane full of a few hundred people, and he weren't about to have to sit next to me for six-and-a-half hours, I'd think he was about to ask something pervy.

"Yeah?" I tried not to look too suspicious, though of course I was completely suspicious. Why didn't he just ask? What could be so delicate?

"Do you like the middle seat?" I laughed out loud at him now.

"No. No one likes the middle seat." I had the aisle seat and he had the middle.

"Well, some people like to sleep."

"Maybe babies like the middle seat," I informed him. "No one else."

He sheepishly backed off. I felt a little guilty as he was much taller than I am. But I couldn't bear the thought of volunteering to suffer even more. I already had to fly across the Atlantic, sit in Paris airport for six hours, then fly to Bangkok, then connect to Burma. I'm flying on a free frequent flyer ticket and no other routing had been available. Why would I want to increase my suffering? And hadn't I stalked the online seating charts for weeks to get this aisle seat? Where had he been during all that?

I ignored him after that, and then once we were airborne, I pulled out my iPad.

"Can you please turn off your wi-fi on your iPad?" I glared at him now. "It's off."

Seriously. We're on a plane. Not the kind that offers wi-fi. We just took off. I won't see a power source again until Paris. Why the hell would I have my wi-fi on?

"You're sure?"

"It's a plane." He backed down again, but now he sighed and squirmed. The dreaded middle seat! 

Later, I heard him explaining to a flight attendant that he had some kind of problem with electromagnetics. They give him a headache and then he gets angry. Or something. What a weirdo. Maybe he needs to fly business class next time, or pay extra for the exit row.

The flight was jam-packed and it was Christmas Eve, so this wasn't exactly everyday business flyers. Kids screamed and wiggled, people couldn't turn off their video screens, and people visited with each other, complaining loudly that they couldn't sit together on this 100% sold-out flight. (I'd volunteered to be bumped but they couldn't find another way to get me to my connecting flight in Bangkok on time.) There was no sleep for me, but there was no sleep for Mr. 32D either. He got up several times, eventually storming off and returning with a flight attendant.

"I want to sleep and he has the light on." The man in 32E was reading.

 "It's a full flight. There's nowhere for me to move him to."

 "He's traveling with others. Can't he switch with one of them?"

 "They're all asleep. I can't tell him to stop reading. Deal with it."

The flight attendant left, and Mr. 32D sighed some more. He held his pillow up against his face. Oh, the agony!

 I didn't get any sleep at all, because of his infernal wiggling and complaining. But at least I know he didn't either.

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