People, Places, and Planes
I’m in Los Angeles, the supposed city of my dreams. I say supposed because, as much as I’d like to figure that out for myself, the only way I’ll be seeing LA tonight is in my dreams. When I called Dad to tell him I’m here, he said, “You just stay put and go to sleep.” I’m doing one of those things, but my insomnia/need to write and use the free internet is keeping me up. Not to mention Laura’s plane was delayed by 2 hours, so I might try to wait up for a few. I know she’s had an exhausting day of traveling.
I, on the other hand, had a pretty easy travel day. Despite my complaints about flying, I almost always meet some of the most interesting individuals in the seat beside me. I recently received the generous gift of Silver Medallion status, so I tried to put it to good use and upgrade to first class. No such luck, but I was fortunate enough to reserve a bulkhead seat – Thanks, Silver Medallion!
I’m usually a window seat person but wanted to try out an aisle seat. I learned that having easy access to the bathroom is not worth getting hit on the shoulder every time someone walks by. Once I’ve settled in, a tall man dressed in a business suit approached and took the middle seat next to me. I was nearly in his seat as everyone else is trying to store their luggage in the overhead compartments; this is the worst part of sitting on the aisle. I apologized and we made polite conversation, over the course of which I learned that his accent is a mixture of Lithuanian and Australian, and a little of everywhere in between, and he learned of my job as a travel consultant.
“If you’re a travel agent, you probably should have known better than to get an exit row seat,” he told me. Instantly, I liked this guy – I couldn’t believe he was already giving me a hard time after a five minute long small talk discussion.
You know when you meet someone and you feel like you’ve known them your entire life? It’s the strangest thing, but that’s what happened in the least likely of circumstances. This 30 year old businessman and I wind up talking for the entire 5 hour flight, which probably drove the people around us crazy. We were cracking each other up with cultural differences (“What is the point of this spring break thing?”) and his frank opinion of my control-freak nature. I like to think I’m not that easily read, but I guess I’m wrong on that one.
He told me that the number one place on his travel bucket list is Alabama. I kindly informed him that he’s going to be really disappointed. “I want to walk into a bar where everyone is drinking beers and then the room just stops to turn around to me, and the bartender spits and asks me what I want, just like in the movies.” I revoked my statement and let him know that if that’s what he’s expecting, he actually won’t be disappointed.
As I was flipping through a travel magazine, I came across an advertisement for Papau New Guinea. “Have you been here?” I asked, since it’s located relatively close to Australia.
“No, they are still eating people there,” he said, pointing toward the ad, “I would be scared of running into someone like that.” Granted, the advertisement featured a man who looked something like this:
“I have a question for you,” he said, gesturing toward my Biscoff cookie, “do you use tactics like a little dog guarding a bone? You don’t want the bone, but you don’t want your other friends to have it. You just want them to see it and smell it and be jealous?”
“Is that your way of asking for my Biscoff? Because you can have it.”
“No, I’m just curious if you are like that. I think you are. You are so obviously an only child.”
I love it. Somehow, this near-stranger had figured me out and put me in a nutshell. I taught him the phrase “smart aleck” and told him that he was one. The whole flight goes by like five minutes and I realize that this is one of the main reasons I love to travel -it’s the cheesiest thing you’ll ever hear my say, but traveling as much about the journey as it is about the destination.
I’ve made it a goal to visit to at least one life changing place a year. I consider it a promise kept for the last two years, and I believe that this trip to French Polynesia will continue the tradition – so far, so good.