Friday, September 04, 2015

45. Exit Row

With all this flying back and forth to Mindanao, I've developed a liking for the exit row. These are the seats on the twelfth row when taking Cebu Pacific, or the twenty-secondth row, but designated as forty-first seats, when aboard Philippine Airlines. The best thing about these seats is the extra leg room. The normal rows are so crammed, especially with the Cebu Pacific planes, that sitting  on them is like being in a military training. There is only one way to sit, which is straight up. If the guy in front of me decided to recline his chair, I'd be inches away to having a direct view of his bald spot. And if the flight is from Manila to Davao, that's an hour and twenty minutes of that view, which is not good. The exit row, however, takes off that inconvenience. I have space to stretch my  legs, and the reclining chairs don't interfere with my line of sight. For two hundred fifty pesos more, it's bliss in flight. Of course everything has a catch. Being in the exit row requires the passenger to read the manual on how to open the exit doors in case of emergency. Fine, if it never happens. But if it does, it may be a life-changing experience. I have a friend who's brother was on the exit row in a plane travelling to Bacolod.  His plane over shot the runway, and he did his duties. He opened the door, but in all the commotion, he was pushed overboard before the stairs could inflate. He survived what was equivalent to a two storey fall. But he was badly injured until he died. He sued the airline, yet the case remains unresolved years after his death. Indeed, the exit row is a dangerous fascination, perhaps like the attraction to light of the fireflies in that tale of Teodora Alonzo, Rizal's mom, related to him when he was a kid. But a life lived by turning away from the fascinating things, because of perceived danger is a life for the common man. Many like to live the life of the common man; whatever suits them. But the exit row is not for the them, it's for those people who like the fireflies are willing to get burned for things they want from life. If Rizal were alive today and flying aboard these flights, I'm sure I would have met him by now by the exit row. I have also imagined many times opening that door,  if by fate, the same eventuality as what happened to my friend's brother takes place. In my mind, I have practiced how not to get pushed overboard by the wild throng before the stairs inflate. For unlike the fireflies that die by their attraction to the light, uncommon people learn from their experience and the experience of others to survive and enjoy what they want.

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