Middle Seat Chronicle: A Chance to say ‘Hi’

I am sure you all must have had your travel experience with bus, train and airplane. While booking your tickets for these, you would be very careful to not to take the middle seat. I say the Government should convert all 3-seated coach to 2-seated by scraping all the middle seats. Admit it, nobody wants middle seat; especially all those single passenger.

Trains:

In train, if you get the ticket on middle berth then oh boy, you are in for disastrous journey. Most of the time in India, you know, for sleeper or even 3rd AC coach, crowd would capture seats like they own it, especially in day journey; whether they are having tickets or not. If your berth is either upper or lower then it will be okay, you can stick to your seat then forget about adjusting and people around. But for middle berth people, nobody knows or even cares what your seat number is. You are like nobody for them. Of course, you can urge for having your valid ticket which was booked on our great IRCTC site 2 months before the journey and argued about your right to sit comfortably on your seat but, in your thoughts while crushed among 5-6 people in lower berth.

After getting a middle seat, your dependency on other passengers from same compartment would rapidly increase; especially for keeping your luggage, having lunch or dinner and sleeping hours. It’s like some household game you are playing and for every move you need to look for hint (help). For lunch/dinner, you need to ask the permission. Most of the time, you would have very less number of luggage (maybe one/two) but the other passenger you are travelling with, would definitely have whole bunch of house items (more than five). After they put all their stuffs there would be no space left for your two small bags. Of course, you will ask them politely by pointing out under the lower berth:

“Aann.. Excuse me, I guess there is no space there to put my bags and I don’t find any other empty space either. Can you do me favour by adjusting your luggage for my bags?”

“Ohh… no problem. We could help. Just give us your bags. By the way, how many bags you have?”

After getting a reply, they would take your bags by uttering this:

“You know, we should not carry more luggage while travelling. As per railways conduct we cannot carry more than 3 bags per head. Ultimately, who would get benefit from this? Us only, right! You will not get lucky like today every time. You understand what I am saying?”

You will give the very humble look for accepting your ‘mistakes’ and thinking

Yeah, yeah, I understand, three luggage per head. God, I hate the ticket counter guy who gave me the middle berth!

Also, I don’t understand all those family people or recently married couples (hardly 1-2 years old) in the train with seat exchanging offer. Imagine you have got the upper berth for more than 24 hours of journey and you might be thinking of taking a nap for more than 18 hours isolating yourself from everyone. You would be really happy while hoping on the train but suddenly after reaching to the compartment you see one couple was saying bye to their family members. You suppress your excitement and slowly lift your bag to put it on the upper berth. By looking at this, the wife hit her husband with her elbow to talk with you. Eventually, he will come and talk to you like this:

“Excuse me, do you mind exchanging seat with us. You see I have got one middle berth ticket just below your seat and my wife is on the upper berth just across your seat. So, I was thinking if you agree then we will be really grateful.”

For a few moments, you tried to think what to say. You definitely, don’t want to say ‘yes’ and you can’t say ‘no’. Just for those seconds, in your mind, you would be struggling for a cunning idea to get rid of the situation but suddenly out of nowhere, this line would come from the guy:

“You are single. This should not be any problem with you!”

After hearing those lines, you will bite your tongue in a frustration and you will dedicate your dreamy precious 24 hours journey.

Being single traveler doesn’t mean we are always available to negotiate for any kind of adjustment.

Unfortunately, these all troubles will be applied to guys only. Girls always can get away with this and you can think of a lot of reasons behind it.

Planes:

What could be worse than the middle seat in a domestic flight! It’s pleasing that we don’t have to travel long hours in those.

First of all, the clearance between rows is too less. You can’t go for middle seat if someone is sitting on first seat. Of course, it’s difficult for windows seat passengers as well but at least, they have the full sky view to embrace his/her journey. The seats are too close that you can’t even turn your head properly to your left or right. If you do that the fellow passenger would be looking at you by thinking that you are staring at him/her. And by pointing out to their magazine your awkward reaction would be:

“Oh.. What magazine you are reading?”

“FTV Magazine! You want it?”

After this, you weirdly change head direction to away from that magazine by thinking

Yes, of course, I want it but I can’t take it here in public place.

After few minutes, you have to do nothing but read special Ad magazine and flight instructions like ‘What to do in case of emergency’ which scares you even more.

Second, you will avoid going for washroom and try to hold your natural activity because you don’t want to interrupt your fellow passenger. The distance between your legs would be zero in no time and you will keep shaking upper part of body up & down in a periodic motion. You tried to think about many different objects which you expect, somehow distract your mind. But no matter, how much you try, you end up ultimately thinking about river falling, big bucket of water, water filled glass or raining.

Okay just one hour to go, I can hold it…. Oh no… set smaller goals, 10 min easily I can hold… hmmm this is good. I am feeling confident. Okay, distraction, Think about movie. Shawshank Redemption – Wow, what a great movie. Morgan Freeman was awesome in his narration. And what a great escape. Oh… what a worse movie for this critical time. He escaped out to a small river. Oh… I need a distraction again…

And this continues, until you come out of plane and finish your thing at airport wash room.

Conclusion:

From above example, I just wanted to show how people tried to avoid any kind of talk with strangers. It becomes our nature. In my view, Middle seat actually connects people. It gives us a chance to break our inhibition and start acknowledging each other. We live in more advanced, busy world where we have very less time to interact with other human. Our world becomes so small. We, without having proper knowledge, have already begun to misjudge people who live across the globe. In buses, trains and planes, there are so many people come from many places and having a middle seat means; you have a chance to say ‘Hi’. Don’t miss it! Open up!

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