I made my mind up instantly.
I didn’t like him.
On our flight back from San Francisco the plane was jammed full. In our row I had the aisle, Joe the middle and a fellow a few years younger than us had the window. We had preboarded so we got up and let him in. He sat down and immediately, as if the windows aren’t shared by everyone in the row, pulled the window shades down. Now, I fly a lot and though I’m no longer a nervous flyer, I do find that being able to look out the window during take off and landing quite comforting. I leaned forward and asked the fellow, politely, if it would be OK with him to have the windows open during those times. I explained briefly that it settles my nerves. He smiled, grimly, and said that flying didn’t bother him at all and that yes, he’d put the windows up.
Then, he did. He pushed them up. I thanked him and then went about waiting for the plane to take off. When he thought I wasn’t looking he pulled the windows back down. The decision was made. ‘What an asshat.’ And that was that. Joe and I glanced at each other, then settled in for the plane to be loaded and then begin the journey home.
We got in position for take off, the engines revved and the flight attendants were asked to take their places for take off. Then, quickly, the window shades shot back up. I was able to look out the window, see us take off over the bay, watch as we banked over the city and head home. He’d done what I asked, the shades went back down.
I was in conflict. I had decided that he was an ‘asshat’, I was comfortable with that. I even, I hate admitting it, enjoyed it a bit, thinking how much different I would have been if the request had been made of me. I was NICER. I knew that. Then he did exactly what I asked him to do. I was really reluctant to upgrade my opinion of him.
Then, tired of thinking about it, I got my book and began to read. Lord John Grey and his complicated relationship with Jamie Frasier distracted me for much of the rest of the flight. That and getting something to eat and buying duty free also added to my distractions.
We were nearing Toronto, the plane’s engines slowed down and the flight attendants were making their final pass through the plane. The windows, which had been closed for the flight, went back up. He’d actually remembered my request and complied with it.
But I had decided what I thought of him.
I had decided that he was a jerk.
Unmaking that decision would take a lot of work. It was easier just to go on thinking poorly of him. I mean it was easy to do. He closed the window shades without any consultation with us, He only opened them on request for very specific times. He acted as if he was giving up a gift by doing what was requested of him. See … it’s EASY to come up with reasons to justify thinking badly of someone you don’t even know.
All I knew was that I was NICER that him and would have been NICER from the start.
Now getting out of the plane would take coordination. I’d have to get up, back up and let Joe out who could go forward and then our fellow passenger would get out passing by me, and then I could sit back down in my seat. I had to wait for my chair to come back up. I asked Joe to explain to him what was going to happen. He listened, nodded, and said that it wasn’t a problem.
The exit strategy worked and as I sat down in my seat he wished me a pleasant evening. I wished him one too.
Seems he was a decent chap all along.
Thank heavens he had no idea the mental work that went on in my head to finally come to the conclusion that he wasn’t so bad after all. You see that’s what nice guys do!