Happy New Year Friends & Family!
2015 was a tough year to leave behind. It was a year of wedding delights, copious amounts of visits from the best people you can find, and a lot of good adventuring. Despite my consistent aversion to odd numbers, 2015 was spectacular. I was fortunate enough to close out the year with some magical people I get to call my family and this wonderful guy I snagged who is now my husband. And that, my friends, is exactly where this post starts.
So, at this point in time, I’ve successfully made 10 round-trip international flights. You would think Rich and I would have earned some sort of free trip by now but guaranteed the most we’ve managed to qualify for is a scarf and a magazine subscription. Through the course of these journeys back and forth to the US, I’ve had the pleasure, and sometimes misfortune, of meeting some interesting folk in the world. Here are 3 people I’ve recently met on airline excursions:
1. Maria Beatrice: I met Beatrice on my very last leg traveling back from Minneapolis. Beatrice and I initially made contact when I got the last chicken & thyme sandwich of the flight and she got stuck with the egg salad (I know). She looked as hungry as I felt tired so I told her I would trade sandwiches with her. Cue instant bond. Fast forward falling asleep against the window and being jerked awake by turbulence and Beatrice grabbing my arm in fright.
In the past four flights I’ve taken into Florence, there’s been turbulence. Those green Tuscan hills are beautiful, but they must create some sort of wind tunnel as approaching planes attempt to land on the too short runway in our current home city. As it’s nearly
impossible to be actively holding onto someone and not converse with them, converse we did. It turns out Beatrice works for the Chinese consulate and was on her way back from a trip to Shanghai. She’s originally from Italy (Rome, I think) and her husband is the current police chief in Florence. She has a friend who was working at the EUI but was planning on leaving soon. Her son was devastated as this woman’s son had become his best friend. Commence looking at pictures of Beatrice’s son with his best friend and talking about how much English he knows.
2. Friendly Blonde Woman from Poland: Just for kicks, let’s refer to this airline acquaintance as Magdalina. Magdalina and I met traveling from Boston to Montreal. Our flight had been delayed three hours with snow in Montreal and when we finally eased into our seats, she immediately commented how happy she was to be on the plane and starting the journey towards Europe. After a few minutes of pleasantries, she filled me in that she was on her way back to Poland to work a New Year’s Eve shift as a physician. Her husband is working at Harvard but as they’re not sure of the permanence of his job, they’ve kept their life and her job in Poland and she travels back 1-2 times a month to meet her shift requirements.
As soon as she landed in Poland, she would begin her first shift at the hospital followed by office hours followed by a brief break and then a repeat scenario. Holy toledo, this woman was a champion. Our adventure together continued & concluded as we flew off the plane in Montreal, fled through customs, and immediately filed onto our next flight to Frankfurt.
3. Crabby Canadian: As you can see from the above descriptions, the majority of people I meet on planes are friendly, conversational, and respectful. When you’re practically touching a person from elbow to hip for at least 7 hours, it’s nearly impossible to not become temporary acquaintances. But this woman, who we’re going to call Francina, was not of the affable sort.
My introduction to Francina and the kind of seat buddy she would be was finding her carry-on bag in my seat. When she saw me, she pointed to the bag, pointed to me, and pointed to the overhead bin. Now, if she looked sickly, elderly, or even politely asked me to help her with her bag, I would have been more than happy to. But pointing, really? Our friendship grew as she poked me in the arm after dinner to alert me to the fact that coffee and tea were coming around.
I was asleep.
Francina continued to use me as her poking bag as she couldn’t figure out how the movie touch screen worked or where her headphones connected for sound. The ultimate cherry on top was when, after we had de-boarded and were all lining up to consult an agent as to what to do about our connecting flights, she used her physical size to square off in front of me.
Fortunately for Feisty Francina, I used the experience to grow my patience a little bit more. And as I’ve been fortunate to have some pretty intriguing chair mates, it seems as though I was due for a crusty character.