Under normal circumstances I am calm, cool and collected harboring no thoughts of revenge for anybody. That is just the kind of person I am. I simply do not have the energy to get all worked up about trivial things. Life is much too short for that.
Of course, when I say "normal circumstances," I am implying that there are other kinds of circumstances. When these not so normal circumstances arise, all bets are off.
I ran into one of these not so normal circumstances when traveling out of the country recently. The flight I was on was en route for 18 hours straight. By the ninth hour, my eyes were crossed, my posterior was numb and my elbows had surrendered to obscurity.
One of these days, I would like to meet the so-called engineer who designed airline seats. I'm quite sure when I find him he will be a short, skinny person with no conception of what people other than himself are like.
Everybody wants to make everything for the "average" person. Such a person does not exist. According to my experience, the average person is 4'9" tall and weighs approximately 89 pounds. I was that size in first-grade, but I have grown up since then. According to the statistics, I comprise four people. My problem is I do not know which four.
Back to my airplane seat.
The airplane industry does not designed seats for real people. Rather, they are designed for some figment of some insane person's imagination.
When I got my boarding pass, I immediately looked at my seating assignment. My heart dropped when I noticed I was assigned a middle seat. The other two seats are bad enough but at least they leave room for one elbow. Not so with the middle seat. With this seat, there is no room for elbows. I suppose the engineer who developed the seat forgot that most people have two elbows.
Where does he think I am going to put my elbows? In my shirt pocket?
When I found my seat, my traveling companions were already seated and buckled in. The person on the aisle seat had to get up and let me get seated in the middle. He smiled as I got positioned and fastened my seatbelt. I smiled back but not quite as enthusiastically. I looked at the person on the window seat, and he smiled at me and I smiled back.
The first thing I noticed as I got situated was I had no room for my elbows. I squirmed this way and that way hoping to gain access to a little bit of the elbow rest on each side of me, without any success at all. The boys on either side were strongly attached to their elbow rest and not about to give an inch. I, on the other hand, was about to give a foot.
Finally, we were in the air and I was squeezed together like an Italian accordion. I wanted to play a polka for my two new friends on either side of me. My circumstances were to disintegrate rather abruptly.
My two traveling companions were rather chatty. Not to me so much as to each other. When they were not speaking to me, they were speaking some foreign language. I could never tell what language they were speaking. However, they would chat to each other, point to me and laugh rather robustly. I cannot tell you how delighted I was to be the source of such merriment. I was tempted to charge a cover fee.
Finally, I tried to get some sleep. My companions had the same idea. It was then that the turmoil really began. I have had nightmares in my sleep but I was to be treated to something rather different on this flight.
Just as I was dozing off, I felt a sharp pain in my left side. Upon investigation, it turned out to be the elbow of my traveling companion on my left. Soon my right side felt a similar pain. Then began a chorus of right elbow, then left elbow. The rhythm kept up for a time and then both elbows at the same. I began singing the blues.
Somehow, I had to find a way to regain my dignity on this flight. I had no place for my elbows but my companions seem to delight in placing their elbows in my ribs. I then had a brilliant idea. I knew how I could regain a place of superiority on this flight.
Something that the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage always complained about came to mind. A broad smile began creeping across my mug. It was a surefire plane.
With great effort, I bent over and untied my shoelaces. With great care, I removed both shoes. The reaction only took a few moments. Soon both of my companions woke up with a start and grabbed their noses while squawking, "What is that awful smell?"
A wide radius in front and behind me had a similar reaction.
Both companions leaned as far away from me as physically possible leaving me both elbow rests I enjoyed for the rest of the flight.
I remembered what the Bible says. "But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God" (Philippians 4:18 KJV).
Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores.