November 15, 2021
empty airplane seats
SEAT 24-B One of the real beauties of having earbuds or earphones on an airplane is that they help you avoid tiresome conversations with people who seem to use talking to alleviate their anxiety about flying. They must think that as long as they’re talking to the person next to them, the pilot’s going to do a better job flying the plane. I’m sure there’s research somewhere either confirming or disproving this theory, but I haven’t seen it. On a recent flight, I was occupying seat 24-A, the window seat in my row. When jocular Greg sat down in 24-C, the aisle seat, and immediately struck up a conversation, I reflexively reached for my earbuds. Greg seemed like a nice enough guy, but this was a two-and-a-half-hour flight, I was tired from presenting most of that day, had work I still needed to get done, and the passengers hadn’t even finished boarding yet! As it turned out, the earbuds weren’t what saved me. It was Keshab, a 22-year-old, impossibly thin, Nepalis man in middle seat 24-B who saved the day. As Keshab wedged his ceremonially gowned self between us, Greg instantly shifted his conversation from me to him. I wasted