by Malaika Adero

The flight between New York City and Los Angeles is one I look forward to as an opportunity to get a lot done:  edit manuscripts, read, stare into space uninterrupted.  If I’m really lucky, I might also get to  watch an in-flight movie that actually matches my taste.

A good thing got better recently as I found a nonstop cheap fare on Virgin American. Never having flown with them before, I didn’t realize that the planes—with their beautifully designed interiors—also  have computer screens on the back of each seat and a handset encased in the right arm. This allows you to do all sorts of great things, including  purchase snacks,  play games, listen to a favorite musical artist or radio station, monitor the progress of the flight and pay to view new-release films of your choice. Perfect. I could finally see Slumdog Millionaire, the Oscar winner that I’d been trying to get after weeks of failed attempts.

I was comfy in my seat and half-way through the film when I got another surprise. A message window appears in the middle of my screen: 5B asking if I “want to talk?” I sit up in my seat asking myself, “who the hell is in 5B?” and “what do I do now?”

In a matter of seconds I consider that: I’m clueless about how I use the handset to reply, I don’t want to lose track of the movie nor the 8 bucks I paid for it, and if this is a hoax pulled by a wise-guy fellow passenger, I’ll feel like a chump. So, of the two touch-screen options, I chose ignore. As Slumdog ended and I pondered the matters of love and fate, it occurred to me that sitting a dozen seats ahead,  might just be the one—the love or a million dollars—that got away. Who knew? I raised my head just a bit, but unable to sort anyone out in the dark, smiled to myself and sighed.

A senior editor at Altria Books (Simon and Schuster), Malaika  Adero has worked in the book publishing industry for more than 20
years. She worked in an independent bookstore, at a scholarly press and
then an educational book publisher before taking a position of
editorial assistant at New American Library in 1985. She grew as an
editor at Simon & Schuster, and then Fireside, from 1985 to 1991,
returning to S&S for the launch of Atria in 2002. She was the
founding executive editor for Amistad Press (from 1992 – 1996) and
director of her own editorial and publishing consulting firm, Blue
Media Editorial Services. She received a Tony Godwin Award in 1988 and
was an editorial fellow at the Jerusalem Bookfair in 1995.

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  • Uko Bendi Udo May 18, 2009 at 7:58 am

    A pleasure to meet you yesterday at the SWAC (Farai’s reading). I finally put a face to the name! The manuscript was Night Flights Over the Sahara. Small world.

    By the way I really enjoyed the event. I also like to stare into space when I fly. Write more.

    My local email addy is [email protected].

  • Tina Andrews April 19, 2009 at 9:06 am

    From now on, I will pay attention to those pop-up questions on the screen. Since I, too, ignore them, I may be passing up “the one.” Ya never know.