Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Does An Ideal Seatmate Exist?

Brought to you by Guest Blogger "Chloe Murray" 
(Thanks Chloe!) 

Long distance flights always make me nervous.  It’s, not the tight
security and long check- in lines, flight delays or baggage claim.  I
can even handle spending long periods of time with no foot rest, no
turning room, and seats that can barely accommodate someone with a
healthy backside. Conditions are a bit uncomfortable, but I can shrug
off the little things. The only thing that matters for a long flight
for me is having a “good seatmate.”

Throughout my travels over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to be
seated next to pleasant people, but I’m always anxious about who my
seatmate will be  - the seat mate “situation” could go either way.
You could end up with someone completely overbearing and inconsiderate
or someone whose travel etiquette and personality suite you just

On this flight things started out pretty well.  As soon as I met him,
we had an instant connection, if you can call it that.  Leaving
Amsterdam, we made small talk because I almost missed the plane (the
attendants actually began unloading my luggage).  After settling- in
and making myself as comfortable as possible, and getting over the
embarrassment of being the last passenger to board, we progressed to
the usual topics - our careers, our families, and how jet lagged both
of us were.

Yes!!! I thought, he’s going to be a good “seatmate”.  He probably
won’t talk my ear off, ask a million questions about my personal life,
or get into world politics. Another time that would be ok, but today I
just wanted to listen to my ipod and be alone with my thoughts.

All was well until he fell asleep.  It began with a light snore.  The
snoring became louder and louder.  His head slouched to the side and
suddenly it was resting on my shoulder.  At first, I found the
situation little awkward, but I decided not to disturb him.  His sleep
seemed peaceful, even if it was loud and a little annoying.

But then he started drooling.  I can tolerate snoring and the fact
that he was inadvertently invading my personal space, but I do have
limits, and drooling on me, was taking things more than a few steps
too far.  I eased my way out of the window seat and towards the
bathroom.  I was sure that he would have to wake up to let me get back
to my seat.  I thought that this was a polite way to end the whole
fiasco without being rude and creating an uncomfortable situation.
After all, we did have about 9 “seatmate hours” left.

The ride from Amsterdam to Kili led me to think nostalgically of “seat
mates” on plane rides past.  I wouldn’t call this seatmate ideal, but
I decided it could have been worse.  He might have twitched
uncontrollably, openly picked his nose, or launched angry tirades
about who knows what.

Finally, the plane landed, and it was a relief.  My seatmate woke up
and gave me a shy and embarrassed smile.  He must have realized…  I
wanted to tell him it was o.k. - no harm done, but I didn’t.  We
exchanged friendly goodbyes, wished each other well and got off the

Once I cleared customs I began looking for my driver.  Suddenly,
without actually realizing what was happening, a huge smile spread
across my face as the familiar smell of burning trash in the warm air
filled my nostrils.  I was on African soil again.  Whether or not I
had an ideal “seatmate,” or whether one even exists, became


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

As a rookie consultant who is trying to study for my MA in Philosophy whilst on trains at ridiculous times of the morning, please can you define 'a healthy backside' for me?
I think I know but I have learned not to assume anything!
To type this in I have to prove that I am not a robot when my last 3 months have convinced me that I am.