Wednesday, August 20, 2008
To the lady in 17A
Dear lady in seat 17A on the Continental Airlines flight from Newark to Tucson:
I know how it must have looked to you as my family made our awkward way down the aisle, the last passengers to board the plane. A husband laden down with carry-on bags, followed by an almost-3-year-old, prodded along by me, holding a newborn. It probably looked even more ridiculous than I felt. And you must have been able to see, written on our faces, the sure signs of travel fatigue, coupled with the stress of moving a household across the country, complicated by sleep deprivation since the arrival of a baby two weeks earlier.
You had an empty seat beside you, probably one of the only ones on the entire plane. The other woman in your row, after hearing that my family was all seated separately, generously offered to move so that we could at least have two seats together.
What could have possibly possessed you to immediately negate your row-mate's offer, look directly at me, and say "Please, no!"? I only wish I could have properly heard what you said next. It was something like, "No, I really need my ______." I spent the rest of the flight trying to figure out what it was you needed so badly that you couldn't facilitate everybody else's efforts to seat a toddler with her mother. Was it space? Rest? Privacy? I guess I'll never know.
But just so you know, a party of three who did have three seats together, farther back in the plane, gave up their places as soon as they heard what had happened to us.
I know not everybody has kids, or loves kids, or likes kids, or understands why other people ever choose to even have kids. But you know what? At one time or another in our lives, we are all that stressed-out mom boarding an airplane with a toddler and a newborn, with no place to sit. It's just that some people's particular stressful moments take a different form. When yours comes, I hope someone is more considerate of you than you were of me. At the very least, I hope that someone doesn't make you cry, like you made me. It's not the hardest thing to make a recent postpartum mom cry, but to make me cry in public was certainly a minor accomplishment.
Better luck to us both next time, and I hope you got the _____ you needed so badly.
Hoping to recover my faith in the goodness of humanity someday,