The man arrives at the gate. Coffee in hand. A small shoulder bag over his shoulder carrying important documents and an iPad. He doesn’t travel with a computer anymore. He finds it easier to read documents from his clients quickly on the tablet. His iPhone lies in his sports jacket pocket. He walks briskly past all the college students and tired families to Priority Boarding. Group 1.
Then suddenly, the loudspeaker booms with a female voice. “Attention passengers at gate 86, destination Atlanta at 8:15 AM,” the female voice says. “Our first class cabin is overbooked. We are asking for volunteers to give up their first class seat to take a middle seat in economy.”
The man grimaces and looks down. Then he notices a woman in front of him, squeamish and fidgety. She is talking to a friend who is standing at the front of group 3. “I got first class!” she says. “I am not sure.”
The man doesn’t budge. But he knows what may happen next.
The female voice booms over the crowd of passengers again. “We’ll make an offer for first class passengers willing to take a middle seat in economy.”
An offer, he thinks, spinning the idea in his mind. No, he thinks, he must arrive in Atlanta rested for tomorrow’s client meeting. Nothing is worth it.
Then suddenly, it isn’t. The woman goes to the counter and talks to the flight attendant. She joins her friend in Group 3, grinning. “Look, what I got!” she says and laughs.
Twenty minutes go back and another request is made. Nobody budges. Then in 15 minutes, a female representative goes up to Group 1. Starting at the back. “Can I take a look at your ticket?” she says to a well-dressed woman behind him. She sighs. Then suddenly it’s his turn. He wants to say how many miles he has, how he is a loyal customer. But he looks at the passengers around him, did he belong anyway? When in another life, he wanted to be an artist living with his college girlfriend spending their nights drinking PBR and long discussions of the world and things now he knew.
“Okay,” he says to the representative.