A few weeks ago, on a flight back from Europe, I witnessed the kind of selfless love I’d only ever read about in fairy tales.
The plane was ancient; No outlets, TV’s, or modern amenities in sight. The air smelled like burnt coffee and farts, and the seats were so cramped together it looked like a legitimate safety hazard.
Of course, I was assigned a middle seat.
The most overweight person I’ve ever seen aboard an airplane slowed at my row and looked around ominously. My first thought was that she was merely pausing to catch her breath. There was a sheen of sweat across her brow and she was sucking in air like she’d just run an ultra marathon, not lumbered down a jet bridge.
With a groan, she hoisted her bag into the overhead bin and slowly started to tip herself into the aisle seat next to me, eventually collapsing into 32C.
She did some rearranging and awkward shifting, but despite her efforts, she truly could not fit in the seat. I watched as she sheepishly lifted the armrest between us so her girth had somewhere to go. I was trapped and there was no way out…
A flight attendant came over with a smile and a seatbelt extender, but the passenger was so wedged in that even without the security of a belt, she wasn’t going anywhere in the event of turbulence.
I looked around in panic. How would I survive the nine hour flight in what was essentially one quarter of the seat I had paid for? The guy to my right, sitting in the window seat, met my gaze, offered a small shrug, and returned to the magazine he was reading.
I sat back, defeated.
But then, a miracle occurred.
A petite blonde exited her aisle seat several rows in front of us and walked back to our row.
“Excuse me,” she asked quietly. “Would you mind switching seats with me? I’m a nervous flyer and I’d really like to be next to my boyfriend for this flight.”
Before I could say anything, she continued, “I’ve got an aisle seat in the emergency row up there. Plenty of legroom… if it’s not too much trouble.”
I stared at her mutely before vigorously nodding my head in consent.
Yes, yes, yes, I would take her spacious aisle seat in row 14, thank you very much.
A moment later, the obese woman heaved herself back up into the aisle so we could make the switch. I scampered towards the front of the plane with glee! When I looked back, the couple was cuddling sweetly in the window seat, so smitten with one another that they seemed completely oblivious to the fact that they had just willing opted into what was my nightmare airplane scenario.
That, my friends, is love.