One of the reasons I love to travel is the opportunity to meet people who I would never run into otherwise. Recently, I completed a 10-city media tour that had me bouncing in and out of different airports and time zones. I always find travel exhilarating, but there are those times when exhaustion and a bit of loneliness creep in. During this tour, I met several interesting and memorable people who helped me remember why I make the effort.
One evening, after a long day of travel, I decided to be among people and dined at the hotel bar instead of ordering room service and watching tv. As I sat enjoying some sliders, I couldn’t help but overhear and listen to three guys who were sitting within ear shot. They were part of a large group that had attended a networking event in the hotel earlier and they were attempting to impress a young woman with their wit, all the while talking about bands and life way before her time. She seemed most concerned with her wine, so I guess they served a purpose for one another–and me because I was thoroughly entertained.
On one flight, I was fidgety and hung out at the back of the plane listening to the flight attendants reminisce about the good ‘ol days when flying wasn’t equivalent to mass transit–more like what we’ll see in the upcoming drama series Pan Am. I was fortunate to have flown on British Airways many years ago when my grandparents returned to England after living in the states for more than 30 years. Everyone received a blanket, pillow and a hot meal during the flight–even those in “economy” class. Headsets were free and flight attendants somehow managed to maintain a pleasant demeanor during a long overseas flight.
During a layover in Dallas, as I searched for an outlet to recharge my cell phone, I wound up sharing a wall socket with an Army soldier who was headed home on a 2-week leave after being in Afghanistan for six months. We chatted briefly, enough time for me to find out that after his 2-week leave, he was headed back for another six months then he’s done with that tour. Once the flight landed in Sacramento, it was heartwarming to witness the reunion with his wife and four small children.
On one leg, I sat next to Larue, a retired teacher from Waco, Texas who was headed to the west coast to visit her brother. Larue said he had been sick so she needed to see him. Larue is 79 and it from what she said, she’s obviously in a reflective stage of her life. She was anxious about the flight, in total amazement about all that has happened in her lifetime including how all these people managed to get on a plane and go up in the air. At one point, the conversation turned to the movie The Help, which I watched recently (an instant classic, for sure!). She shared with me that making memories was the most important thing when it comes to family and how when she was a child, her parents would get permission to use part of a white person’s field so the family could have a picnic and make a memory. Larue also attempted to spread the word of Jesus and convert me, on the spot, but that’s another story entirely. As we landed, she instructed me to write down her contact information. I think I’ll send her a postcard!
Then there was Signa, a mom and a grandma, originally from new York, but living in Salt Lake City for the past 30 years. I was completely surprised when she revealed she was around 70! And even more surprised when I discovered her daughter lives less than a mile from me, two time zones from her mother. That evening when I arrived at my hotel, I already received an email from her daughter who I expect I’ll meet very soon.
It truly is a small world in many ways. We are somehow connected and you never know who you’ll meet if you’re open to it.