Flying is the absolute worst, and that’s no exaggeration. Baggage fees that have extended to carry-ons, fights erupting over people reclining their seats, having to listen to drunken jerks go on racist tirades – the in-flight agony never seems to end. Exacerbating the problem, almost every flight is overbooked these days, resulting in crowded, cranky passengers who are ready to snap at the slightest provocation. It’s almost a guarantee that you will be squeezed into your seat (please, please, not the middle!), next to someone either eating really smelly food, coughing and sneezing, or hogging the arm rest.
But every now and then, the seat next to you remains unoccupied during boarding. You sit there, nervously eyeing every frowning passenger coming down the aisle, trying to determine if they are headed in your direction. You try not to think about it, steeling yourself for the inevitable, hoping that your seat mate will at least be someone tolerable.
Suddenly, you see the flight attendant close the cabin door, and the beautiful realization hits you: Nobody will be sitting next to you. What can you do with this newfound bounty of unoccupied territory? Stretch your legs out awkwardly to the side, just because you can. Stow your computer bag in the foot space next to yours. Raise your armrest and put your books, magazines and computer on the empty seat. Stash your drinks and snacks on that seat-back tray instead of yours. Try to actually enjoy your flight and pay no heed to the furtive, jealous glances from other passengers packed into their rows. This is your spot, baby, and you’re going to enjoy it, dammit.
In the scheme of things, maybe having an empty seat next to you on a flight isn’t the most important thing in the world. But air travel is an incredibly stressful experience these days, and it couldn’t be farther from the golden days of the 1950s, when you could stretch out, have a cigarette and a cocktail, and eat some lobster — in economy! Sure, luxuries like those can be had by richies in Emirates’ business class, but most of us are just trying to get from point A to point B without suffering severe psychological trauma. As you hurtle through space at high speed in an aluminum tube across the ocean, a little extra space means a lot. Savour it, friends.
The things we’re grateful for linger long after the turkey’s been digested. To remind ourselves that celebrating life’s little joys is really where it’s at, The Loop’s calling out the everyday things that give us heaps of pleasure. Starting October 10, we’ll publish one new story daily about a thing, moment or experience that gives us the warm and fuzzies.
You’ve probably got plenty to be thankful for, too, and we want to know about it! Share what you’re most grateful for on Facebook here or via Twitter using the hashtag #12DAYSOFTHANKS (we’re @theloopca) or join the conversation on Hubub. Happy Thanksgiving!