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Daily Prompt: Middle Seat

Daily Prompt: Middle Seat

It turns out that your neighbor on the plane/bus/train (or the person sitting at the next table at the coffee shop) is a very, very chatty tourist. Do you try to switch seats, go for a non-committal brief small talk, or make this person your new best friend?


“Sorry sir, the flight is fully booked and all the seats are taken. You are welcome to see if anyone is willing to change with you on the plane. Perhaps accommodations can be made on board.”

“OK, thanks for trying.” I was a gold status passenger on Pacific Western Airways but this was a last minute booking for a 14 hour flight to Engonia and I was lucky to have a seat at all. I shouldn’t be complaining.

When pre-boarding was announced I made my way down the jet bridge and towards the back of the plane. I glanced at my boarding pass and confirmed that I was looking for 53B, a center seat on the port side. I finally found it, deep in the bowels of the jetliner. I tossed my briefcase above and squeezed in. My knees were pushing against the back of 52B but I was determined to make the best of it.

When general boarding began, one of the first passengers to make his way to these depths of the craft was a large man, a very large man. Built like a sumo wrestler, he picked his way towards row 53, stopped and pointed towards the window seat to my left. I shook my head and got up to let him by. “Tight fit,” I said and he nodded.

He held up his seatbelt extender and showed me. “I gotta hook this up,” he said. “Only be a second.” After he wedged into his seat, I squeezed into mine. The armrest was gone and I had acquired a noticeable starboard list but, we introduced ourselves, shook hands and struck up a conversation.

My large seatmate was named Brian and it turns out that he was a musician, a percussionist to be precise, who had been invited to play as a guest musician with the Engonian national symphony orchestra. He was a well educated and articulate gentleman. This might be OK after all, I thought to myself. If we can’t sleep at least we can have a stimulating conversation.

“Pardon me.” I heard and looked up. Brian was standing in the aisle. How did that happen? I looked to my left and Brian was sitting next to me. I looked back at the aisle and Brian was standing there too, holding a seatbelt extender. I was confused.

Brian on my left chuckled, “TN, this is my brother, Richard. We’re twins. Richard, this is TN.”

The Brian from the aisle, who I now knew was not Brian at all, rather he was Richard, shook my hand and started hooking up his seatbelt extender. “Sorry about this TN.” He said, “We normally don’t travel coach because of our size but, first was sold out.” I nodded. “They tried to give us an empty seat in the middle but you must have booked later. Sorry.” He repeated.

“Richard is a conductor,” Brian explained. “We’re going to be in Engonia for six weeks playing with the National Symphony.”

Nice guys, Brian and Richard. Big guys, Brian and Richard. But at least I was sitting up straight now!

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