Un­com­mon courtesy

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Rus­sell Wanger­sky is TC Me­dia’s At­lantic re­gional colum­nist. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­sky@tc.tc — Twit­ter: @Wanger­sky.

(A so­lil­o­quy for 10A and 10B, on the oc­ca­sion of the three and a half hours we spent con­fined to­gether in the early hours of a morn­ing flight from Sacra­mento to Chicago.)

I don’t know you, 10A, nor do I know your friend, 10B, though cer­tainly I feel that I do, three and a half hours into the shared con­ver­sa­tion.

I know, 10B, that your son is about to re­ceive an un­ex­pected quilt, and that 10A worked hard to as­suage your fears about its de­liv­ery.

And I am sure you did not re­al­ize, as you talked loudly over the en­gines, that bearded lanky 10C next to you was asleep or, at least, try­ing to be, mouth agape early in the 6 a.m. halflight. Nor that much of the rest of the plane was asleep as well, the re­sult of be­ing at the air­port for five and wad­ing through air­port se­cu­rity.

And when we passed over the per­fect green cir­cles of the ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem fields in the sere brown Mid­west, I’m sure you did not mean to awaken me, in 9A, by pok­ing me with sharp fin­ger­nails as you tried, in­ex­pli­ca­bly, to re­align my seat some­how from be­hind.

Nor, 10B, did you give any thought be­fore loudly ex­claim­ing “Utah” for no par­tic­u­lar rea­son, ex­cept that the clouds had cleared and be­neath us was a spine of moun­tains and a vast bowl plain of sedge­brown soil, even if you’d missed that state’s pas­sage long be­fore.

Far be it for those en­gines, so in­tent on keep­ing us aloft, to in­ter­rupt your dis­cus­sion, or to in­ter­rupt your shar­ing of that dis­cus­sion with us all.

On the other side of the seat, I won­der if that is an el­bow or a knee you are driv­ing into my back: I only feel the shape of it im­pre­cisely, the way you might watch a limb from a near-term baby arise and sub­side through the belly of the mother-to-be.

I peered back through the seats im­plor­ingly, just to let you know that you are not alone, but all I saw was slices of 10B, the kind of glimpse I have been hav­ing for the last few weeks of live­stock when the rat­tling metal trucks pass by — sliv­ers of the dirty sides of beef cat­tle, the oc­ca­sional porcine snout.

Then, 10A, you had to fight with the re­cal­ci­trant purse, packed so, so tightly be­neath my seat, a trial re­quir­ing Her­culean ef­fort and even more loud dis­cus­sion.

And that, all that, only got me as far as Chicago, half­way across a con­ti­nent in the way we travel when we do, packed so tight that there are oc­ca­sion­ally mo­ments when you feel like you might ei­ther have to force your­self through the pack of peo­ple or quite lit­er­ally ex­plode.

And I know that air­plane travel is only one small and pretty rare piece of life, but it il­lus­trates some­thing that so many of us seem to have for­got­ten: that we are not alone in our ev­ery­day lives, and that we should al­ways be aware that we are just one among many, and not al­ways the cen­tre of all at­ten­tion.

Re­mem­ber in all things that there are two sides to every seat, and choos­ing to be­lieve oth­er­wise doesn’t make strangers any less real.

Has it re­ally be­come so dif­fi­cult for us to imag­ine our­selves in some­one else’s shoes?

Com­mon courtesy: so easy, so straight­for­ward, yet such a fleet­ing thing.

And 10B, de­spite your con­cerns, I’m sure your son will love the quilt. Or at least have the de­cency to say he does.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.