I have been long overdue for a vacation, so when the day of my flight to Bolivia finally arrived- I left for the airport with a spring in my step. I was flying from Detroit to La Paz, with a connection in Miami. Security was a breeze and both flights were even on time, so naturally I was a little suspicious- something needed to go wrong. That’s when I noticed I had two middle seats.
I arrived to my seat on the first leg of my flight, and to my horror realized it was really more like half a seat- the other seat and a half occupied by my neighbor. I politely squeezed in and tried to make myself as small as possible, thanking Orange Theory the entire time for my smaller butt.
Midway through the flight, the airplane started to shake violently and I happily melted into my seat. However, I couldn’t help but notice that the lady next to me was terrified, and holding on for dear life.
Although I enjoy chatting up strangers on flights, I was uncomfortable and slightly annoyed about the contortions I had to perform to fit into my seat, so I wanted to keep to myself tonight.
After about five more minutes of turbulence I caved and asked my neighbor, “Are you okay?”
“This is my first time flying,” she responded.
“Oh, you’re fine! This is nothing at all. Just some run of the mill turbulence. Sub par, really.” I told the lady nonchalantly.
She exhaled, smiled and said, “Thank you.”
When the turbulence hit again, I decided to get her talking. She was a bus driver in Michigan and had six kids. This was her first vacation away from her family, her first time in an airplane, and her first time going to Miami. She was nervous and excited. And of course she was- the lady waited 17 years to take a trip!
And there I was on my way to my 43rd country, whining about a middle seat.
See, it’s easy to take travel for granted when it’s something you just do. It took a conversation with a stranger to remind me how blessed I am to always be traveling, and going on yet another incredible adventure. So, cheers to the middle seat!