News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists


Flying on a wing and a threat

You’ve been on a long plane ride in the economy section that my wife Regina calls the cattle car.

You know the cramped quarters, and you cross your fingers that you will have ideal neighbors for your flight.

You board early and wait. You hold your breath as a woman approaches, lugging a suitcase and an overfilled shopping bag. The luggage will squeeze in overhead but the shopping bag is going you know where.

You breathe easily as she passes. You instantly rethink that she wouldn’t have been so bad as a young mother and two crying children approach. You pray for relief. It doesn’t come. You’ve traded a shopping bag for two brats.

You, of course, want seatmates to smell fresh, wear clean clothes and to fit within their assigned seat boundaries. But no squallers.

One of the unluckiest draws on a return overseas flight is a window seatmate who drank the local water. You finally ask if he would like the aisle seat.

He gets the message. He’s embarrassed. You don’t care. You, too, need relief.

But what do you do about the unhappy tots?

Call it child abuse. Call it mean, but call it success. A male passenger recently drew our daughter Mary Grace and her two daughters as seatmates.

Emma Grace, 4, didn’t get to be the family baby as long as she wished because Mary Stephen came along a little more than two years later.

The 4-year-old fights for attention.

Mary Grace held Mary Stephen, Emma Grace sat in the middle and a stranger occupied the third seat.

Things went well for about 10 minutes into the flight until Mary Stephen cast an envious eye, then grabbed Emma Grace’s toy.

Emma Grace howled, and howled and howled. Exasperated, the man told Emma Grace that if she didn’t hush he was going to sit her out on the wing by herself.

“Can he do that?” she asked her mom.

“Those are the rules, Mary Grace replied.

End of crying.

Tom Wright is executive editor.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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