Remember to be.


“If I return it will be on two wheels or four”

I’m guessing the man was hovering around 50 years old; he had a great rural accent, a clean shave, white tennis shoes and slacks.

I’m not sure that I have ever sat next to a person on their first airplane ride.

Could have happened in the early days before ubiquitous air travel, back when it was amazing that people other than the highly affluent had access to faster than car transportation. If I did, I don’t remember because I was new too.

“Are you ok sir?”

“I’m ok…Can I have a water?”

“I’ll get you one when we are at cruising altitude”

I never caught his name. His row 28 seat C small talk hadn’t been developed through years of passing cups and pushing past for a pee break. Before we took off, the steward asked him an additional time if he was ok. We were in an exit row, but I used that as a catalyst to conversation, we had 3.4 hours together almost touching facing the same direction towards the west coast, might as well be polite.

[Plus people are far more amendable to let you to the bathroom if you have started your knowing each other before asking for a favor.]

He was traveling to meet his brother who worked at a shipyard in Long Beach. He was coming to help him on his house and if he liked it, then stay. No return trip booked but he was sure that if it came time to return he would buy a car or a motorcycle and never get on an airplane again. 

The flight was taking off, he had his eyes closed and gripping the hand rests, hard.

How often are you present for seminal moments in people’s lives?

I got to tell him when the worst of it was over and then when the captain turned on the seatbelt sign later that it meant there may be turbulence.

It was that feeling of helping an old lady across the street or helping a child reach something on a high shelf or telling a stranger they dropped something of value.

I had a value to another person of real tangible use, knowledge. In this case it was used to assuage fears and to show camaraderie in the face of questionable physics.

[A steel tube flying through the air does seem suspect if you think about it.]



If feels good to be reminded of the human experience of existing. I find that so often I am stuck in a world of cerebral planning or creating similitudes between previous experiences. I don’t register new or present moments often; it’s nice to be reminded of “new”.