Hey, you're in my seat! -Looking past inconvenience and finding purpose in interactions with others.
I was on a flight to NYC, settled in my seat and ready to go! I'm a bit of a rebel so you know what I say to turning my "devices" off ? NOPE! I'm going to rock out to my travel playlist as G-Force lets my organs know that it is in charge, if only for a few brief moments during take off. As the plane climbs, the altitude lets me know that my ears are at its mercy. I said my prayer for safety (which I do anytime I set out on a trip) and look forward to an uneventful, turbulence-free flight. The flight attendant came to make her final checks of the overhead compartments and then it happened....
The inevitable issue popped up because there's ALWAYS an issue for some reason or another. Not knowing immediately what the issue was; I started to pray that it is small and easy to solve, because hey, who want a delayed fight? I know I didn't. Across the aisle from me was a woman of about mid to late 60's. She was small framed and appeared to be soft spoken. The flight attendant leaned over as the woman showed her ticket. I turned my volume down to see what's going on. The woman told the flight attendant that she was supposed to be sitting in seat 20A, the window seat, and asks if there is another one that she could move to. As luck would not have it, there were no more window seats. The woman looks deflated and begins to glare at her ticket again which made me curious. I glanced over at the ticket, then at the seat indicator above her head. Sure enough, the seat she should have sat in was the window seat. It's easy to sit in the wrong seat, we've all done it. As a matter of fact, I sat in the very seat the woman ended up sitting in before she boarded. It wasn't until a young couple came to sit down that I realized I was in the wrong seat. I quickly moved over at the very moment that the woman looking for the window seat walked up. The question then was, how did she end up in the aisle seat when the window seat was rightfully hers? The woman said nothing. She looked over at the couple and said nothing.
For a moment, I felt my advocate vigilanteism activate. (yes, that's right, I just made up a phrase. Feel free to use it.) I was compelled to say something.
I know that there is someone reading this right now thinking:
Why should you care, it's not your seat?
It's none of your business.
Yes, that is true, it wasn't my business; however, my curious mind wanted an answer to this question: Why didn't she say anything? Had it been me, I would have politely made sure that lady in the couple, who was sitting in the older passengers seat incorrectly, sashayed her narrow hips and sat in the aisle seat. With that, I turned my music back on and prepared for take-off.
About half way through the flight, the woman began to hold a conversation with the couple. Although I didn't hear what it was that they were talking about, the conversation seemed to be a delightful one. By the end of the flight, the couple and the older woman were all smiles and exchanged contact information. Her motives for not saying anything could have been to avoid confrontation or she calculated that switching seats was no longer an issue. As a communication guide that helps people be assertive and purposeful in their interactions with others, the choice the older woman took to skip the seat change and chat it up with the couple made me take a pause. It reminded me that sometimes our actions can have just as much power as spoken words. It reminded me that effective communication looks different for different people at different points in their interactions with others, but the end game is to communicate with others on your terms.
As we de-boarded the plane, I lost sight of the three of them. My mind quickly switched from curiosity mode to thoughts of getting out of LaGuardia as fast as possible. That day I would like to think that the older woman and the couple created a memory of fellowship and good conversation. I hope that any connection the three of them made was more important and impactful to all of them than who really should have been sitting in seat 20A.