I hopped on an airplane yesterday, and flew from our Kansas City home south to our Florida home - and if you're wondering why that is significant, and I wouldn't blame you if you were - well, it's significant because it means more flying stories.
I fly the budget airline, Southwest, and besides the advantage of free luggage, there's also the excitement and anticipation of choosing your own seat once you've boarded. And watching people choose their seat on a Southwest flight always provides lots of enjoyment.
Seriously...some people walk down the aisle of the plane, looking like they're trying to choose their mate for eternity - when I want to scream at them, "Come on, already - it's a freakin' SEAT! We're all going to get there at the same time!"
I can't blame them, in a way...I'm sure they're all trying to do the "avoidance" dance...avoid the crying baby, avoid the kicking child, avoid the guy who doesn't wear deodorant, and avoid the woman who brought THREE styrofoam trays of chicken wings on board.
And yes. THAT woman - with the chicken wings - was on my plane yesterday...I kid you not.
For me, all I require is a window seat...that actually looks out over something that ISN'T the wing. I've found that if I can see land, or water, or even clouds below me, it helps "ground" me a bit and removes some of my anxiety while flying.
Yesterday, I was walking down the aisle, aiming for the back so I could be beyond the wing, when I saw an "extra" pilot sitting in Row 31. The seat by him - the window seat - was empty.
SCORE!!!!! I felt like I won the jackpot...not only did I get my coveted window seat, but I also got to sit by a pilot, so maybe I could actually grab some shut-eye on the plane, knowing an extra pilot was sitting right there beside me, ready to go into the cockpit and take the controls, if needed. I didn't have to be the backseat driver, for once, which is always a good thing.
No. He didn't look like THAT. But still...he was a pilot. As long as he can fly a plane, that's all that's needed.
The flight from KC to Chicago (my connection) was rather bumpy...okay, we're talking rockin' and rollin' bumpy, due to some extreme weather yesterday, but it was AWESOME being able to surreptitiously watch the pilot's face, looking for signs of worry - and after not seeing any, I was able to "somewhat" relax.
In Chicago, my pilot-friend got off, and an older woman took his place.
And I hit the jackpot AGAIN!
This woman was a riot a minute. To begin with, she was absolutely terrified of flying - worse than me!! - and so I got to teach - always a passion of mine! - and I taught her all of my lessons of dealing with fear-of-flying.
We needed them, because this flight was even worse than the first leg...there were some moments when we were dropping from the sky, which would send the woman into a scream...it kinda' took the fear out of me, as I had to help her. Distraction is always good when terrified, trust me.
When she wasn't shrieking due to the turbulence, we talked...and she was extremely interesting. The stories she had...the life she had lived...the adventures she'd had...I was hanging on the edge of my seat (well...literally...since we were bumping around so much...).
No crying babies around me. No kids kicking the back of my seat. And the chicken-wing lady had taken her foam trays and had departed in Chicago.
Life was good.
You never know what life's going to bring you...and where you'll have opportunities to meet new people and hear some great stories....
Keep your eyes open for those opportunities...they're pretty amazing.