The Seat in the Middle by Kelly Nelon Clark

Kelly Nelon Clark and The Nelons (Jason Clark not in picture)
Kelly Nelon Clark and The Nelons (Jason Clark not in picture)

I’m sitting here on my first leg of two flights today. This flight is from Jacksonville to Las Vegas and to say the least, it is a full flight. Jason, Amber and Autumn are all sitting somewhere else in the plane.

I am seated in the middle seat between two elderly ladies. The one on my right is very petite and very kind. The one to my left is very tall and slender and, well, I don’t know if I can explain her. She is very eccentric and has her one leg on my side of the seat and is continually elbowing me in the side as she is half way in my seat and can’t seem to get settled.

On take-off she asked the lady on my right (we will call her P-lady) to raise the shade because she is claustrophobic. The lady looks at her and slowly raises up the blind. She whispers to me, “Wouldn’t it be terrible to be that way?” I nod in agreement. 

I am desperately trying to keep both arms in my lap but it is a three-and-a-half hour flight. I think I am going to go crazy. The eccentric lady (we will call her E-lady) is dressed to a tee in a navy blue suit and her jewelry is very expensive. It seems as if she is very well off and used to everything being her way. She stands up in the aisle every chance she gets, until a voice comes on the speaker telling her to sit down. Reluctantly she plops down in the seat, flips open her magazine and continues on with poking me in the side. I wait for every opportunity for her to stand up as it is my only time to relax.

We’ve been on the plane now for 20 minutes. Only three hours and 10 minutes left. It’s snack time and she gets out her banana nut bread and something else that looks and smells disgusting. I put my jacket over my nose and say my nose is cold so not to hurt her feelings but I think I’m going to gag. She also gets some cookies from the flight attendant and crumbs are everywhere. I’ll finish this note later; maybe I can close my eyes and the time will fly by.

Oh no, now she is sneezing uncontrollably. I wish I had earplugs. Her husband or companion is seated in the seat across from her and I guess she doesn’t hear well because he speaks on volume 10 to her. I’m going to try and sleep now. 

Well that was short lived. The air is bumpy and I guess it is scaring her or making her nervous. She is hopping around in her seat. I’m starting to feel a little sorry for her; she is on my side and flings the arm of my jacket toward me as if it is in her way. I want to laugh but holding it in. The poor petite lady on my right tries to sleep. Wish I could.

E-lady accidentally pushes the steward button instead of the light. The flight attendant comes and she tells him it was a mistake. “But since you are here will you tell me what time it is here and what time it will be in Vegas?”  He tries to explain but she doesn’t quite get it. P-lady looks up and asks, “What State are we flying over? Is it Arizona?”  “No Ma’am, it’s Oklahoma.” “Very interesting,” she says. Now both are reading with their lights on. Me – I’m giving you a play by play of my flight.

Five minutes later, I kid you not; E-lady is standing in the aisle again. You can’t make this stuff up. She is hopping from one leg to the other. She decides to make her second trip to the restroom. I may join her. Hoping my battery will last until we get off this flight. Twenty minutes later she has still not returned from the restroom. Maybe she is standing in the back. I knew I should have gone.

kelly 2Thirty minutes later she is back. She reaches down to get her purse and it’s huge. She can hardly maneuver it. She gets a snack out and then frantically tries to zip it and get it back under her seat. She tries from the inside but can’t get it through her legs. Finally she tries from the outside in and successfully gets it in. She proceeds to ring the flight attendant for a drink. Whew. I’m worn out! Crumbs from her cookie are everywhere.

As I sit here I think, “What would Jesus do?”  First thought in my head is, I am not Jesus. But I am supposed to be like Him. Jesus was in the middle one time too. It was while He was on the Cross. He was loving and forgiving in a very dark time in his life. So I try to think of something to connect with. She does not talk, at least to anyone but her husband and the flight attendant so I open my purse and I offer both the E-lady and the P-lady some gum. They both accept and smile. Ten more minutes and we will be on the ground. It really wasn’t so bad at all!

By Kelly Nelon Clark, monthly columnist for SGN Scoops

First published by SGN Scoops in September 2014

For current issues of SGN Scoops please visit http://www.sgnscoops.com/