Thursday, July 06, 2006

dispatch from evanszton

So I arrived at the airport in Boston plenty early, but United hadn't assigned me a seat. It was plain I was going to get assigned to some middle seat anyway, so I just waited until I was about to board to get my seat assignment. And, because I dallied over the chowder I bought for dinner here, they were already nearly done boarding by the time I showed up.

I started talking to one of gate assistants about my seat assignment while a couple next to me was having an animated discussion with the other assistant. The man was then holding up his hands and pacing and exclaiming, "I'm going to miss my father's funeral! I'm going to miss my father's funeral!"

So then his wife, who was justjustjust about to start crying, asked if I would give up my seat for her husband because, as he was busy exclaiming, he was going to miss his father's funeral if he didn't get on the flight. There was another flight leaving in a little more than an hour, which was too late for their connection. The wife had resigned that she would have to miss the funeral, but at least if I gave up my seat her husband could make it.

The Old Me would have said yes immediately. The Old Me once handed his umbrella in a torrential downpour to a stranger who looked like he could use it more than me (a man, even, so there wasn't even a Chivalrous Protector Of Women angle). The New Me stood there a moment and calaculated whether this was one of those cases where the Old Me acted in ways consistent with my rural Iowa upbringing but which made me a sucker in the world of self-important-professional-on-the-go academics to which I inspire. Certain recent unbloggable circumstances have made me extrasensitive to the rube-sucker self-concept. And besides, I would already be getting there late as it was. The deliberation resulted in me deciding that I still wanted New Me to be the sort of person who would give up his seat in this situation, and so I did.

As it turned out, while this was happening, another seat magically became available for the husband, and so really the issue was whether the wife would get to be with her husband or not. They were just about to start processing the switch. The clerk looked at me like, "Still want to do this?" and the woman looked very awkward, and of course I said "Of course." And so now I'm spending part of the extra hour waiting writing this post.

I hope to God all this doesn't result in my luggage being lost. UPDATE from Evanston: My luggage was not lost. Apparently it arrived with the earlier flight, and was sitting by itself by that baggage claim instead of the one for the flight I was actually on.

12 comments:

eszter said...

Since this is not a wiki so I can't directly go and edit the post to make it reflect reality better, I'll just comment. Regarding the luggage, you forgot the bit about how it didn't occur to you at first that the luggage may have arrived before you so you waited for all the bags to come out before checking elsewhere. (So much for security, by the way.) A well-seasoned traveler would have known to check there first.

Winston said...

Jeremy, you are a saint! And a sucker... That little number gets played out many times each day by people who prey on others sympathies... because they can. People who forgot to make advance reservations. People who decide spur of the moment they just have to fly out and check on the condition of Uncle Harry who happens to live in Vegas... etc.

Most of those can be easily revealed by insisting that your reason for travel is at least as important as theirs, and finding out how much they will pay for bumping you. If someone is willing to fork over $100 cash, chances are they are legit and then you can choose whether to take the cash or be a saint.

That said, I would probably have done the same thing ... and then blogged about it...

Anonymous said...

but if another seat became available, why couldn't you all travel on that flight?

Anonymous said...

i don't understand why you all didn't take that flight when that 'extra' seat became available...

Anonymous said...

cancel that.

--anon 9:21

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

Having almost missed a flight to get back to Missouri to see my hospitalized grandmother, I think it was a very nice thing you did. I think I would think that even if I had not just been primed for sympathy for people with sick or dead relatives, however.

Various commenters: 1 additional seat becoming available + Jeremy's seat = 2 seats, which is not enough seats for three people. Did you guys take algebra?

Anonymous said...

Post was originally read (mistakenly) to mean that Jeremy giving up seat would have allowed the *couple* to travel together. Thus, when *additional* seat magically appeared available... So, you see, even those trained in elementary math (not algebra), can make mistakes when English is misread.

Anon 9:20

jeremy said...

Why don't we just call it arithmetic and be done with it? In any case, if I was being fooled, as Winston speculates, I do not want to know.

jeremy said...

I missed Eszter's opening comment: I didn't wait for all the luggage, but, well, yes, most of it.

Anonymous said...

1+1=2 as "algebra". is that what they teach over there in mad-town?

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

Since it seemed to be a word problem of sorts, I raised the difficulty level. At any rate, at least I was able to figure out how many open seats there were.

Of course, I also won 2nd place in word problems at the 4th grade level in the word problem category in the Missouri state math competition in 1992. So maybe my standards are unreasonable.

Anonymous said...

Missouri math runner-up? Well, enough said. Uncle.