A man entered the plane and showed me his ticket and said I was sitting in his seat. I showed him my ticket. Both seats were first class, but my original seat was a single seat that was both a window and an aisle. I had just moved here to be next to a colleague, since on these small planes and short distances company is more important than the view. He quickly accepted my seat. I assumed this was because mine was a better one, but later I wasn’t so sure. He accepted a drink from the flight attendant, a carbonated water, no ice.
The next time I looked ahead I noticed the seat where he sat was now empty. An announcement came on. “We are now closing the cabin doors. If you would like to deboard this is your last chance.”
Had I missed his deboarding? Did he get scared? Did he see a cute lady with an empty seat further back? Perhaps he had been upgraded but his beloved or pregnant wife hadn’t been.
The flight attendant lingered at my seat as the drinks were collected. “Why do you make the deboarding announcement?” I asked. He looked at the seat that was now vacant. Sometimes people leave the plane prior to flight for various reasons.
This would not be the first time I took this flight. It would also not be the last time I witnessed fizzy water drinker come on board. The next time he boarded my eyes were fixed on him. He seemed not to recognize me. This time just moments before the door was closing, he, clutching his briefcase closely, brushed past the flight attendant, murmuring something.
This time I told the flight attendant I recognized him. Yes it I happens from time to time, he told me, and we’ve even had customers who change their mind repeatedly. Most expensive fizzy water he ever drank, I’d imagine, except for the other fizzy water on that other plane.
Maybe he was afraid of heights? Maybe a healthy dose of alligator blood would fix that. Or maybe he needed to exist. Maybe he needed to negotiate a space, but didn’t actually want to be told he had to leave it. He wanted to do that on his own terms. I wondered how it would be to have him over for dinner.