Friday, January 4, 2008

Frequent Flyers

Conversations may begin with, “So where are ya headed?” or bonds maybe forged over a loud crying baby. This seems to be the life of a constant traveler.

As I type during a layover in Philadelphia on my way back from Vermont to Atlanta, I am able to again take up one of my favorite hobbies: people watching. They, the other people waiting in and around the terminal that is, come in all flavors (military, young, old, foreign, business, airline employed), shapes, shades and demeanors. Some are patiently awaiting boarding by reading a book while others are visibly jumpy, nervous and seemingly remorseful that they are leaving behind loved ones or friends in a town recently visited.

My mind drifts and I think about a life in the air. For so many flight attendants, pilots, traveling salesmen and international businessmen, the skies are where they spend countless hours, days and nights. What would it be like to travel alone so often, experiencing solitude in an airport full of people or standing in a fast food restaurant line to avoid eating alone at an eat-in restaurant?

“So where ya traveling to?” And so it begins between two men sitting near one another at the airport Le Petite Bistro Express.

“Actually home to Raleigh, North Carolina,” a man answers.

“Oh really?” the other man responds. “I received my undergrad at NC State, right there in Raleigh.”

“Small world! What in?” The question fires back and genuine interest can be sensed in the inquisitor’s voice.

The back-and-forths go on for a few more minutes and a fleeting friendship is formed. It may be the first of several barely five or ten minute conversations, but it seems to beat walking, thinking and quietly anticipating the next flight destination.

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