The best person I ever didn’t meet

So… I’m on an airplane the day before yesterday sitting about two rows in front of the exit row. And as we’re all getting settled the flight attendant walks up just behind me to give the standard ‘exit row disclaimer’ speech: “You all realize you are seated in an exit row… I need a verbal acknowledgment that you’re all physically capable and willing to assist other passengers in case of an emergency… Is everyone OK with that?” What followed were a bunch of “YES’s”

And one “NO.”

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Alright sir, so you’re physically unable to assist?

GUY: No.

I felt like I had just been sucker-punched in the sternum. I could not breathe. I was craning my neck and looking around to see if other people heard it or if I was just in the midst of the ultimate dream sequence… There was some shuffling and I guess he was moved a few rows back — I don’t know, I was too busy sneak-texting (what you do when you’re supposed to have turned your phone off already) my friend. There was someone seated next to me but I would have paid all the cash I had access to in order to sit next to that guy.

Some of you might think what he did was an asshole move. But I think it was honorable. I mean he could have lied and just sat there all comfy with his extra leg room and jumped out without regard for anyone else if/when the plane went down. OR, he could have lied and said that he was indeed physically incapable. But he chose honesty.

Not sure if when you get to The Pearly Gates honesty trumps opening an emergency exit and running for your life while 100 other people die in a plane crash — but it sure makes for good comedy. I wanted to know everything about that man. I wanted to buy him a beer and ask him about his childhood. I wanted to know where he was from, what he did for a living. Did he do it on a dare?

I wanted to propose to him.

‘Cause I mean, really if you’ve ever sat in an exit row — and you’re being 100% honest — you’ve questioned how enthusiastic you’d be about helping all the other passengers off the plane. You never verbalized it. You probably just sat there and thought “how likely is that to happen?” But secretly you thought damn, if I was just one row back or forward I wouldn’t have all this anxiety… No?… Just me? WHATEVER, with yo’ lying behind!!!

Anyway, I wanted to wait for him to get off the plane and ask him for his autograph, but I reconsidered after realizing he might not be that big of a “people person.” Plus, I can almost guarantee the story I’ve created in my mind about this guy is better than the reality.

Best. Flight. Ever. Exhale…

Source: original pearly gates artwork