Musical Chairs

Well, apparently the seats are not permanently reclined. They were just all reclined around me.

I wondered how karma was going to repay me for my “selfishness”. I’m still really torn about calling it that. I remember when I was little, I looked at an aunt of mine and thought she was quite self-serving for her gall to be bold and ask for what she wanted even when it made others uncomfortable. But since then, I’ve noticed that most people don’t even ask, they just set up their own little worlds exactly how it suits them. And then they get upset with you when they encroach on your space and you say something about it. I’ve learned that you’ve gotta speak up if you’re going to have any control over what happens to you. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it feels bad sometimes and I don’t know why.

I don’t think it’s selfish to get someplace early and set up your own little space to comfortably see what you came to see, like fireworks or a parade. But it is selfish to take more space than you need. I guess that’s where I call the difference. It’s okay to look out for your own needs. It’s not okay to be inconsiderate. And it might even be okay to call someone else out for being inconsiderate. I’m aware that it makes me one of those people, but is it really okay to be someone who just rolls over and takes whatever other people dish out?

When I was boarding the plane to fly from Montreál to Chicago, I noticed that the displayed seat numbers were rather confusing. It looked something like this: (AC . It took me a few seconds to figure out that letter next to the curved line — the line that looked like the shape your thumb and forefinger make when you flash the “loser” sign — was supposed to represent the seat next to the window. If you didn’t pay attention to the curved line, it could look like the seats were the opposite way. I had seat C, the aisle seat. A woman got on the plane a few minutes after I did who was assigned to the row behind me. I overheard her conversation with the woman who was already seated:

Standing woman: “Um, excuse me, um, I think you are in my seat?”

Seated woman: “I am in seat C.”

Standing woman: (pause, while she looked again at her ticket) “Yes, um, I think, um, that I am seat ‘A’, the window seat.”

Seated woman: “C. This is seat C.”

Standing woman: (looks at the overhead sign) ” … Um … no, I think I am in that seat … see, I specifically asked for a window seat.”

Seated woman: “I am in seat C. This is my seat.”

Standing woman: (gives up and sits down in the aisle seat, miserably.)

When I heard this exchange I felt like turning around and helping the seated woman understand that she really was in the wrong seat. But it wasn’t my business, so I stayed put and kept my trap shut. I felt bad for the woman who had “specifically asked for a window seat,” imagining that she probably didn’t fly much and it was a real treat for her to look out the window. As it turned out, the woman sitting next to the window even shut the shade. But I guess I felt that the responsibility for standing up for what was hers belonged to the woman who caved in. She should have persisted. I would have.

Does that make me a bitch?

Anyway, back to today. I guess karma repaid me today in a couple of ways.

When I got on the bus this morning, I found this great seat on the lower level with a table and four seats around it. The only thing was there was a woman already sitting in the aisle seat facing forward, and she had her bag on the seat next to her. Sitting right next to her would be awkward, especially because there were two empty backward-facing seats across from her. But I didn’t want to get carsick riding six hours backward. I had the thought that, as the bus filled up, if I didn’t take the forward-facing seat next to her, someone else would, so why shouldn’t it be me? So I asked her if that seat was taken and she willingly moved her bag and let me in. I sat back and waited for the bus to fill up.

Apparently it wasn’t a terribly crowded bus this morning and nobody else got on after me.

So I basically encroached on this woman’s personal space for no good reason. I could have sat backwards and just sucked it up if I got carsick. And the table wasn’t great to write on, it bounced terribly with every bump, and again, with my mind chattering at me about how close this stranger was next to me while the two seats across stood empty, I couldn’t concentrate. I got nothing productive done.

About a quarter of the way into the journey, another woman and her son approached and asked if the backward-facing seats were available. Apparently their seats right in front of the bathroom were “odorous.” Our stuff was strewn on both seats. Remind you of something?

We both said, “absolutely, you may sit here,” but it was rather uncomfortable for all, with my computer taking up the whole table and our feet touching underneath. None of us talked, despite the feeling I got that both women were naturally inclined to chat. Apparently it was the fact that I was working that shut everyone up. But again, I was getting nothing done, just wasting my time feeling uncomfortably encroaching.


Then after lunch I moved to a different seat behind me, because another woman had moved into the seats in front of the bathroom, so I took her seat. Finally everyone everyone involved seemed very happy. After I left the table, the two women there got to chatting and seemed quite content to spread out into the space I had occupied. The woman who vacated my seat got to look out the window from a higher vantage point. My new seat was quiet and roomy (once I un-reclined the empty seat in front of me) and I could finally concentrate. I wrote all about it in a blog post and went to post it and then …. the internet went out and I lost everything I had written after the word “bitch.”

Karma. It’s a bitch.


One response to “Musical Chairs

  1. been there… 😉

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