It was a beautiful Sunday evening. I had made it. For a while, stuck in traffic, it almost seemed like I would miss the check-in. I had a presentation the next day; at the MRS Spring Meeting in San Francisco; and, I was rushing to catch the last flight of the day. But, the jam on Interstate 405 cleared just in time and now there I was, staring at the screen wondering what my next response should be.
The machine had tentatively allotted me an exit seat and had popped the question, “Would you like to confirm the seat?”. I have travelled on exit seats before. You get extra legroom as a compensation for the rare possibility that you may have to assist the stewardess in case of an emergency landing. Considering that you have a greater chance to have a road mishap than one in the air, it’s a good deal, I would say.
However, on a whim I clicked the button that showed ‘No’. The machine took a while searching for other available seats and with each passing second a pang of regret grew inside me. After a few moments of deliberation the machine responded, “Owing to a high booking on this flight today, we regretfully inform you that you have been placed in the waiting list.”
I proceeded to Gate 54A. As per the schedule, there still was half an hour before the gate opened for boarding. I could still obtain a boarding pass provided there were a few cancellations. I found a seat near the gate and engrossed myself with the presentation, adding a few finishing touches. I couldn’t help taking frequent glances at the screen in front. My name appeared towards the end of the waiting list...
... Ten minutes till take-off. Most of the seats around are vacant. I look up at the screen. Many illustrious names are off the list but I am still on it. The queue of passengers waiting to board is short now. Soon, I shall know.
Fingers crossed, I dive back into my laptop. Thoughts of a missed presentation and an upset boss start swirling in my mind, when I hear a sweet voice. “Hello mum. I am boarding now. I just called to let you know I love you, in case I die.” What is she doing; scaring her mother like that? Maybe they are that close.
Wait a minute. Probably she knows something other passengers don’t. The trailer of Final Destination 5 flashes in my mind as I think, “Bloody hell! I’ll catch the first flight tomorrow morning.” In times like these you never know.