Ah, the joy of sold out holiday travel aboard the flying buses of Southwest Airlines. You know the drill, rush to the computer precisely 24 hours ahead to print out your boarding pass and pray you get in boarding group “A.” Then rush to the airport, only to wander aimlessly for hours after plodding through the terrorist-proof airport security. Once at your gate, you line up like cattle awaiting branding and off you go. An empty plane awaits your special selection of a window or aisle seat and you hope against hope that no one sits next to you in that dreaded middle seat. For safekeeping, you load the middle seat with your coat, purse, books, snacks etc. Then you either look away disinterestedly or pretend to read as the crowd converges toward your row. You talk yourself down from the mental ledge of xenophobia and think, “Get over it and embrace your fellow man. It’s only a couple of hours.”
I am happy to report that my faith has been restored! Contrary to media reports, not all 20 and 30 somethings are Kardashian wannabees or doped-up losers. On our out-bound flight, our middle seatmate was a Pharmacy School graduate student from Utah, and apparently no slouch, as they only accept eighteen into the program. The youngest of eight children, and the only girl, she seemed bright, articulate, and ambitious, when discussing her future career possibilities.
Our next flight’s seatmate was a 30 something woman who had been in liquor sales for a decade and now travels nine months out of the year selling corks to wineries throughout the United States. When she is not traveling, she assists her husband with management of his debt collection business. Her goal is to retire at 40. That is about the age I began my second career. Clearly, I should have gone into corkage and collections.
Seatmate number three was a young man from Texas who had just graduated from college and gotten his first “real” job working for a company that services cotton gins. I didn’t even know that cotton gins still existed. He was thrilled to have landed a job in this less than stellar economy and hoped to have his own business one day.
I wish the nightly news, and other media outlets, would report about these folks rather than the troublesome Lohans and her ilk. Moral of story: do not fear your seatmates. Some of them are pretty darn impressive and uplifting in these trying times. Just what we need for the new year.
Bitty (a.k.a. Linda Sussman-Swiller) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. You may view her credentials or contact her by clicking here…