Up In the Air

I derive some inexplicable pleasure in choosing the emergency exit seat on flights. A lot of people find it restrictive: you can't keep your hand bag on you, you can't shut the window on a sunny afternoon, you can't recline, you can't keep your tray table open for too long, your seat belt needs to be clutched at all times, and the barrage of bondage is endless.

Several others though, especially the particularly long-limbed, count the merits of the emergency seat. 'So much legroom!' they argue to silence the naysayers.

But my reasons, even I do not know.

The standard set of mandatory special instructions arrive in the form of an extra pleasant air hostess - one who will smile, not scold, and almost sympathize with just how many times you must have to put up with this routine, yet lend her a patient ear. She can see that I come prepared: no luggage in hand or under the front seat, no reclining, no fussing about the sunlight. In medical terms, I'd be the ideal patient. Patient, practical and reasonable.

This window seat invariably distracts me from my book, even if I've flown to or from the same airport several times. The colours, shapes, markers of the wider landscape surrounding it, especially those that change rapidly whilst developing the city's outskirts, make me wonder what motivated the change. A farmhouse property outside the city periphery below the wing of my plane still flying rather low on this high visibility Monday afternoon shows chunky wooden garden chairs and a trampoline and a single storey with canopies on all sides widely spread on the property. The colours belong distinctly to the retro circus family - white, red, yellow, cobalt, mint...

I spot another estate not too far away with a remarkably vast lawn and a single white (presumably) cane pool-side recliner in one corner. It presents a picture perfect frame from up here. Of tasteful affluence, of awareness about the good things in life.

The flight climbs higher in altitude. We float above the occasional little bursts of snow white clouds dotting the blue filter, beneath which one can still make out land demarcations rather vividly. Then my gaze stalks the swiftly changing palette from ground to horizon to the sky above.

'Sky blue', the hue we've all grown up referring to lighter shades of the primary colour, has, one realises from this intimate distance, a perceivably powdery texture. It is not as pale as the chalk in your wax crayons box. It is so much more intense and bright. It has the authority to lay down its cards yet not allow you a varied perspective. It's all the same beyond this point, it seems to affirm. Yet I can't quite pinpoint the particular angle at which one might look and decisively state, from here the sky appears constant.

I also think this preference for the emergency seat comes from my lack of tolerance for bullshit. Can you imagine the hazard someone fussy and idiotic might cause in a situation that requires helping, thinking on one's feet, and exiting from here?

I'd probably end up yanking the person out of the aisle and flinging him or her to a place of no hope. Perhaps even stabbing such an imbecile. I reckon I'm doing a lot of passengers just a huge favour- taking one for the team, as it were.

A perk of extra leg space for the average tall Joe or Jolene, well it just sweetens the deal for this superhero.

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