Envy At 30,000 Feet
As I headed back home from a recent trip to see my brothers, I was too concerned with my standby-flyer-status to really take note of the people waiting with me at the gate. When at last my name was called and my tentative boarding pass issued, I hightailed it onto the plane with my over-stuffed carryon bags. The people were packed into seats like non-smelly sardines. Towards the front, an already seated nice-looking lady motioned me towards the open middle seat on her row. I didn’t think. I threw one bag in the nearest overhead bin and tried not to poke any eyes out with my bulging laptop bag as I hurtled into the open space beside Mrs. Nice.
I knew I could be called off the plane, even up to the last minute, so I didn’t relax until we were actually in the air. I reached down to pull out my book. And that’s when I saw her bag. Not Mrs. Nice’s bag. The one belonging to the cute-already-sleeping-window-seat-girl. I was instantly jealous of her large and stylishly disheveled carryon. Her MacBook Air, Clinique lip gloss, and designer sunglasses all mingled together to declare, “I am important. And fun. I don’t worry about anything because life always has a way of working out for me!” I looked over to the bag at my feet. It was a dull gray, had a billion zippers, and screamed “I am a nerd with OCD.”
Then, since I could tell by her head bobbling that she was asleep, I made the mistake of sizing the rest of her up. She had a rock on her left ring finger the size of Mt. Rainier. She covered her svelte legs with black leggings and was topped by a chic Boho tunic. Her long and flowing hair was, of course, perfect. Due to unspoken airplane etiquette, I gave her face only a cursory glance. And of course it too was without flaw. Dang it! I looked down at my gray cardigan sweater and men’s-sized fake Sperry’s with a grimace. In that moment, I could’ve sworn she talked in her sleep and called me a modern day Jane Eyre—“poor, obscure, plain, and little.”
It was on. I instinctively knew that she was a conniving, evil, tramp of a woman. Oh sure, I may have looked like Jane Eyre, but she had the personality of Lady Gaga, Snooki, and Paris Hilton all rolled into one. I wrote her off with disdain and began to read my book. I was idiotically gleeful that she slept through the complimentary peanuts and sodas.
Then, to my dismay, she woke up. And turned out to be sweeter than anyone you could ever hope to sit next to on a packed airplane. Her smile was warm and genuine, and I felt like a fool for having such critical thoughts about her. I really should know by now not to judge a book by its cover and all the other clichés pertaining to jealousy and judgment. In the meantime, I’m going to get some black leggings and a cooler bag with fewer zippers.