I slid down in my seat in the waiting area and could see her slowly moving down the central aisle between the rows of seats, head swiveling from side to side as she searched with a look of questioning intensity. I had never seen her, but I knew “the look” – cargo pants, dessert shirt, wide-brimmed cloth hat.
We had met via the Internet, and after one phone conversation, I had known we would probably not be compatible. I think I managed one word in between two thirty-minute blocks of constant talking. If the phone conversation was frustrating, I knew we would probably not hike well together, so there were no more phone conversations. Unfortunately, I had already provided my flight details via email.
I was spotted! I glued my eyes to my phone but felt more than saw the shadow and flinched at the small hand stuck in my face as she twisted and slid into the chair beside me at the same time.
I said, “Hi,” and offered a smile. That was the last word I spoke until we landed.
Somehow, she managed to get a seat next to me. My ears were numb by the first layover.
She plopped down next to me. “I’m next to you again!” How was this even possible?! The flight was full.
Five minutes before boarding I ran to the counter.
“Please tell me you can switch my seat. I don’t care where I sit!
The flight attendant frowned at me, stabbing at his keyboard. I forced tears into my eyes. The attendant frowned, tapped some more, and silently handed me a boarding pass.
I watched as she boarded ahead of me, shock on her face. I shrugged in bewilderment, mouthing, “damn airlines.” The last leg of the trip would be quiet. At least I would have that time.