On our flight home from Puerto Vallarta to SFO, Dave sat in the aisle seat (and I across the aisle) next to a very friendly couple heading home to SEA. It all started when the woman saw Dave reading The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest (he finished The Girl Who Played With Fire earlier in the week). She was reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I had just finished the trilogy and a few days before I told Dave I was going to give away Played With Fire to one of the many people we saw at the resort reading Dragon Tattoo. (I’m trying to share and give away books more.) Since Dave was having such nice conversation with the woman we decided to give it to her. We offered the book, she was extremely gracious and almost shocked by our generosity. I told her it was my way of getting her hooked on the series which I loved.
A few days later I flew to JFK for a work trip on a midweek redeye. I was dreading the flight because I had a middle seat. I ended up being between an older couple for Santa Rosa who booked the aisle and window in hopes of having an empty flight and having an extra seat for stretching out. As soon as I arrived at my seat however, they graciously offered me the window.
We started chatting and we ended up having really great, comfortable conversation for about 45 minutes while our plane sat delayed, waiting to take off. We talked about everything from our jobs, the importance of education, getting MBAs, and advertising, to restaurants in SF, musicals and museums in NYC, and their two twenty-something kids (they were going to visit their daughter who was interning in NYC for the summer).
Our flight eventually took off and we all went to sleep. When we woke up we started discussing our hotels and we realized we were staying in neighboring neighborhoods, so I offered to share a cab (thus offering a free ride for them since I would expense the ride for work. They graciously accepted. (I told them I was repaying their goodwill of giving me the window seat.) We continued our great conversation through the morning, in the cab ride and into Manhattan. We exchanged cards and threw out the possibility of meeting up for drinks or maybe to visit my favorite museum (the Whitney) together. In the end, we never connected, but I am planning to email them to see how their trip went and to see if they ended up going to see Promises, Promises (which I recommended).
While many people dread plane chat and do anything to avoid small talk with travel neighbors, I thoroughly enjoyed both these encounters. Meeting nice, interesting strangers can be one of the most enjoyable parts of traveling.