Choice is a figment of our imagination. As humans we are born to believe that we have the power to choose whatever we wish. The difficult reality to accept however is that our lives are predetermined, we do not have as much control over our lives as we think we do.
With the travel season and summer behind us, we dream of future exotic destinations, both amazing and breathtaking! However, take heed that choice plays an important factor in travel and leisure.
These days you can often choose your seat prior to check in. Most people prefer window, some people prefer aisle, and the indifferent ones are stuck in the middle, literally! (Remember it is common courtesy to offer these unfortunate souls both arm rests given their precarious placement!). However, what you cannot choose, and what is most often forced upon you as a solo traveler in a stroke of abysmal luck, is your neighbor for the duration of your flight.
Picture if you will the following; on a regular flight on a regular day, a most irregular event took place. It started off normally, with the aisle and middle seats occupied (with me on the aisle) and passenger X in the middle. We awaited the coming of the window seat passenger; the last toe in our row of tic-tac.
It started off innocently enough, with a how do you do and are you heading home for business or pleasure. However within minutes the conversation became invasive, intrusive and down-right appalling.
At first I was his tech support, as he had a few inquiries regarding Instagram and likes. Later I was his business advisor as he attempted to comprehend the ins-and-outs of starting up a business (which took me 4 years to understand) on a 3 hour flight.
The usual question of what do you do for a living was followed by how much do you make? A question I would not answer if the inquirer were my best friend, let alone a stranger! It did not get any better after that, the next barrage of questions turned out even more violating than the previous; with questions such as if you are taking a leave of 3 weeks that must mean you are dispensable to your company, correct? Upon hearing I was heading to get married, he further inquired, well why do you need 3 weeks? You should be done in 2 days. I looked the other way and took to typing up this strange encounter furiously on my phone. “And why are you typing on your phone in English? You should be typing in Arabic,” as he read over my shoulder! The act of plugging in my earphones led to even more questions, more so followed when I pretended to sleep! “Why are you sleeping? Are you tired?”
For the duration of the flight, he took turns exercising his neck and vocal cords by asking me questions to his left, and the window-seat passenger questions on his right. I had to subtly get rid of him. But I liked my seat too much as I always selected it for sentimental value. A quick scan of the seats behind us revealed several open options, and I was able to cleverly get him to move.
Having thought I’d seen the last of him, I rejoiced with the window passenger, who was a step away from tossing him out of her window. Upon landing however, and as the plane was taxiing (with the fasten your seat belt sign ON) he decided to move back to his original seat, as the plane was still moving!
By that time, all sense of civility was lost on me, as I was hitting back with the most ruthless responses I could think of. He again pried into who me and the other passenger were calling, she responded by berating him. He asked who I was calling and whether I needed a ride home, I told him I would much rather walk to my house than spend another minute in his presence.
At immigration, after finally managing to give him the slip, I was consoled by several passengers that took pity on my plight.
Therefore, be cautious as you board the plane to your future vacation destinations; perform a quick survey of empty seats for escape routes, and pack a pair of ear plugs (or a mouth gag just in case)!