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The Middle Seat: Not What I Expected On The Flight

Oct 12, 2007
The middle seat.

Is there ANYONE who would choose it or there is another choice? Well, sitting with a good friend or spouse might be a reason. But traveling alone, NO one makes that choice. And sometimes we even choose the window and aisle seats when there are two traveling together with the hope that no one will choose the middle seat and we will have that extra space.

I make a point of choosing a window seat on every trip. It's my favorite place to be, looking out the window or leaning against it for a little nap.

On a flight to Denver to an International Coaching Federation Conference, I walked down the aisle toward my assigned seat and saw that there was a woman sitting there in my window seat. Holding my boarding pass stub in hand I said, "My seating assignment is actually 14 F which is the window seat."

"Oh, I guess mine is 14 E," she said, rather disgruntled.

She moved so I could get into the window seat and then sat down in the center, pushing the arm rest down sharply into my somewhat ample hip. Ouch!

We talked a little as the trip went along. She was heading from San Diego to a town near Denver where her mom lives so she can be there for her mother's surgery and recovery.

The captain said that we were moving into some turbulence. "We need all the flight crew to be seated. Passengers, put away all electronic equipment." So much for listening to my Primal Leadership audio. After quite a bit of bumping around through the clouds, we had a smooth landing into the Denver airport.

After six days of presentations, meetings, dinners, and fun, it was time to head back to Phoenix Monday.

"Group 6 may now board the plane. Thank you, Ms. Holman."

On I went with boarding pass stub in hand. Hmmmmm, 6F. Some lady is in my seat AGAIN! I am certainly being given the opportunity to be assertive this trip!

"Excuse me," I said. "My seating assignment is 6F."

The beautiful blonde woman responded, "I can't walk. They had me sit here so that you would be able to get in and out the seat during the flight."

"That makes sense", I replied. I felt humbled hearing what her situation was. I positioned myself in that middle seat and the woman continued to explain.

"I was supposed to take an earlier flight today, but my wheelchair had a flat tire. When my husband attempted to change the tube, he pinched the spare tube and ruined it. We had to wait until the store was opened so we could buy new tubes. As a result, I had to take the later flight and they needed to rearrange the seating so I would be in a window seat."

Our conversation went on from there until wereached the pickup point for the Super Shuttle.

"I'm heading to a conference at the Sheraton Red Horse Pass resort for disabled equestrians. I'm doing a presentation there."

I asked how she was injured, thinking it was most likely a horse incident, like Christopher Reeves. Actually it was a car wreck over 30 years ago. She told me some of the details of the experience and how that near-death experience had influenced her life.

Evelyn is an extremely independent person. I had the opportunity to witness this as we made our way from the plane to the baggage claim.

Our time together was amazing. We shared so much in such a short flight. We talked about her goals and my work as a coach. We felt a tremendous connection. We'll continue to support each other in our journey of life.

The middle seat.

What a wonderful place!

How often are you in a situation that seems negative and there turns out to be a wonderful blessing from the experience? What if you set an intention each day to see clearly what is happening around so that you don't miss something amazing?
About the Author
It's easy to be so focused on performance that we overlook outstanding opportunities. Suzanne Holman is your exuberant productivity coach, located at Exuberant Productivity.com. Visit the site for free resources including a strategy session to get you started!
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