There are two types of people in this world: scrunchers and folders. No! The saved and the damned. No! Coke vs. Pepsi. No! Trekkies and Dr. Who fans.
Oh, shut up, strange person who talks in my head. I wish he’d get a hobby. But not yodeling. Obviously the only two real types of people are those who chose the window seat and those who prefer the aisle.
Us window seat people are easy to spot, even if we’re not sitting by a window. We stare dreamily out at the ocean or the clouds or the desert. We frown when the cute Air Asia girl tells us we have to close the blind. We have dreadlocks and wear tie-dyes and we smell bad. We are vegans and do drugs. We sport a powerful crystal around our necks. We never get angry when the plane is delayed because flying is still the best thing in the world and we feel so lucky to be able to do it, every single time. The ghosts of everyone who died before mass air travel must be spewing.
If the plane were to be hit by a Ukrainian missile our last thought before being sucked out into the ether would be, “Oh well, at least I’ll have a nice view on the way down.” Our corpse, or at least the bit of it that contains the majority of the head, can easily be identified by the satisfied grin across our once-beautiful visage.
To us, flying is not a feat of engineering. We aren’t clever enough to understand how it works. We’ve been told it’s science, but secretly we think it is actually magic. We can just feel it. Perhaps there is a flock of Pegasi under the fuselage that makes it work. Maybe there’s an invisible bit of fishing-wire holding it up. Who knows? It’s more fun not knowing. And that’s good for us because in general we know very little and learn very slowly.
As for the aisle people, what are they? Investment bankers, guys who fix computers, fat people, old people with bladder problems. You see them sitting there, pleased as punch to know they can pop off to the toilet any old time they like, working on their late-model laptops on some work that I’m not clever enough to understand, reading reputable newspapers on their tablets, watching mainstream movies.
Look at them! So clean-shaven. So well-laundered. Their teeth are always brushed and flossed. The ladies have all had pap smears and the men have all had their prostates checked. They never get too drunk to remember to use contraceptives. They never get so drunk they shag ladyboys by accident. These aisle people are the ones who have their 401(k)s maxed out, an investment property, and are halfway through an online masters course in something that will make them even more money. They have well-behaved children who will go on to be well-remunerated professionals like themselves.
When the CIA missile strikes their last thought is, oh no! I’ll be late for that meeting in Hong Kong. I won’t seal the deal! The boss will be disappointed in me! For the first time in my life I will have failed. Hang on, am I actually going to die? Wasn’t there an aeroplane around me a moment ago? Jesus, how the hell am I going to make partner now? And on the Steppe what’s left of his aisle-people head has a contemptuous grimace upon it, just like it did in life.
On the plane we look at each other. The aisle people sneer at us, staring stupidly out the window when we might be doing something productive, and they promise themselves that they will leave comments on a hundred blogs telling assorted window people to learn to code, get married and have kids. Join a church. And die miserable, just like them, just like we’re supposed to.
We window people stare back, wondering whether these aisle people have inner lives at all, whether they might just be background characters like the monsters that shoot at you in Doom.
I really like the window seat. Even Saudi Arabia looks nice from that far up. I’ll never forget flying into Japan in summer one time. The clouds over the Chiba peninsula were like rounded mountains and there was another plane nearby flying through them too, which was great because then I could make out the scale of the clouds and they really were like mountains except you could safely fly through them. It was like a scene from Raputa. Miyazaki is definitely a window seat guy.
Mind you, on long haul flights jumping over the sleeping guy next to you to go to the dunny is a pain in the arse. I might chose the aisle next time.