Monday, February 15, 2010


"now boarding: all rows, all passengers."
magic words: the random seating strategy!

i'm second in line and second to board. mine is a window seat on the left side. as i idly pick up a magazine, i realise that the front cover never faces another passenger, only an equally inanimate window.

ye gods. it's safe!

sighing in relief, i take out an analysis textbook from my carry-on.
nobody's going to bother me,
nobody can see the cover.
nobody will ask me if i'm taking calculus!!!

i'm turning pages as other passengers walk past my row: young couples, single persons, one young family with an infant. i smirk. a countdown to trouble, and i pity the poor saps who have to sit near them.

by the time they close the cabin doors, i realise something else. i have my own row: a pleasant surprise. by now i've already browsed through one section and planned tomorrow's lecture. it will be a short flight, but with a little turbulence: not the best environs to write out those notes.

no matter: those can wait. i can browse two papers for research, instead. at last .. time to work!

i'm just about to skip the introduction to the first paper when i hear a shrill cry, right behind me, and then a german lullaby.

ah, f-ck.

.. and then i remember ..

reception in downtown jyväskylä, august 2004:

i'm among a cabal of mathematics graduate students, a few americans amongst a sea of finns. we're already exchanging travel stories. the advisor joins us while it's my turn to complain about trans-atlantic flights.

".. and then there were two small children in the rown behind me," i said, "ye gods, it was so frustrating."

"yeah, i know," says the advisor. everyone laughs. [1]

realising what i just said, i wince and apologize. he laughs, tells me it's okay, and asks if we're settled in the student village yet ..

sometimes i can't help but think about the advisor and laugh.

at any rate, i spent the hour-long flight trying to concentrate on degiοrgi classes instead of a reading of "goodnight moon."

[1] my memory isn't any good here, but i think his oldest child had just started school and his twins were about a year old.

on a realted note,it would be the first of many times when i would have my foot in my mouth, in from of the advisor. (-:


Anonymous said...

i love it when that happens (the open row, not the baby). most disappointing time is when they announce in advance that its a full flight and all seats are sold. you know in advance that it aint gonna happen. southwest rocks.

janus said...

southwest does rock. (-:

i don't often travel with other people. when it happens, though, the chances of finding adjoining seats seems easier on southwest. one just looks for two empty seats, and most people are understanding about this.

in contrast, seating charts for online ticket sales are a pain. this usually requires calling the airline to ask specifically for this. even then, there is no guarantee that they can pair up seats (if if they insist so).