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Having no seatmate on an airplane is like winning the lottery

I just got myself into an awkward situation with my (former) seatmate on my flight back from the Blissdom conference in Nashville. The gate agent had announced that it would be a very light flight, so I was confident that I would end up with an extra seat. This makes all the difference on a flight. I can spread out onto two tray tables. I can put my laptop on the tray in front of me, and my HTC HD7 Windows phone and drink and snack on the other and be very happy. I can pile other things onto the seat next to me.  If I need to get anything out of my bag I can do it without throwing out a shoulder. I can monopolize the arm rest. Nobody I know would choose to share a row when there were other seats available. Nobody.

A tall, large man sat down next to me, and after saying hello to him I mentioned that he’d probably get to move after everyone was on board. He gave me a funny look. Whatever. I was tired. I put on my sleep mask and went to sleep, expecting to wake up and find him gone, just as anxious as I was to have more space. Your own row is like winning the airplane lottery, and in this case we were all going to be winners.

I woke up as drinks were being offered, and I asked the flight attendant if I could move to an empty row – I didn’t want to assume that my seatmate would want to leave, but was hoping that he’d volunteer. He’d have to get up to let me by anyway. Instead, he said “I finally get to sit next to a beautiful woman and she asks me to move.”

I laughed. It did not occur to me for a second that he was serious. I was wearing no make-up, my hair was frizzy, and I was wearing comfy flying clothes that make me look about four sizes bigger than I am.

He gave me a very hurt look. I felt like a complete asshole.

I smiled and said “Oh, come on!” trying to make my wedding ring as obvious as possible.

I told him I was happy to move, but he said no, he’d move. And he gathered his stuff and left quickly.

Oh my God.

It wasn’t just my imagination, either. The flight attendant gave me a look as he handed me my drink that said “What was up with that?”

I did not intend in any way to insult this man. But I had also planned on putting on headphones and getting to work on my laptop as soon as I woke up. I don’t like making friends with my seatmate. I don’t like chatting on flights. We weren’t going to be getting to know each other better whether he had remained sitting next to me or not.

I’m not always as aware of how I’m affecting other people as I should be. I’ve had people practically shut doors in my face because I was talking long past the point when the other person had any interest. I’ve said things about people that I thought they would find hilarious, and ended up offending them. But I do try to take those occasions and learn from them and not do it again next time.

So what did I learn from this? I can’t assume that everyone’s goal on a flight is to have an empty seat next to them. That will still be my goal, but I’ll try to go about it in a way that doesn’t make me look like a big jerk. I can only hope that this man realizes I meant nothing personal. Man or woman, cute or ugly, fat or thin: if anyone other than George Clooney were sitting next to me my request would have been the same. It wasn’t personal.

So, was I being unreasonable?

Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 1 (HTC HD7 phone). Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, and Momtourage, and podcasts with The Blogging Angels.

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