Some of you may recall that I took my first-ever cruise the beginning of this year, compliments of my mother-in-law. (See that post on February 1--I can't do the link thing for some reason). As I have been thinking lately about the connectivity of blogging, I remembered a “connection” incident I had on my flight toward that wonderful sailing vacation.
As I boarded the second plane of my journey, I sat on the aisle by a couple, W and his wife Y, who occupied the middle and window seats. W looked at me as I sat down and with the most serious voice and the most serious face said to me, "Excuse me, but you aren't going to be slow in getting out of here when we get to Florida are you?"
"Oh," I replied, "Do you have a close connection to make?"
"No, no, but...well, I mean I was just wondering if you were going to be slow or if you will quickly get out when the plane pulls up so that we can get out?"
Oh, dear! I recognized this fidget, as I hate to wait on the plane, too, but this was a little magnified. I could tell he meant business, and I more than halfway expected him to ask me to switch over to the window so that he and his wife could slide over one seat closer to freedom. (She, by the way, was sitting quietly watching the exchange with a Mona Lisa smile). I was confident of one thing: no seat exchange was going to happen.
I decided to put him as much at ease as I could and truthfully said, "Not to worry! The deplaning is absolutely my least-favorite part of flying. I'll be out of this seat in a flash."
He visibly relaxed, forcing a bit of a smile at me. "Okay," he quietly said.
Having just come off of a couple of successful spontaneous airport stranger conversations, I decided to press my luck. "Hi, I'm C," I ventured.
"Oh, uh, we're W and Y from...[not the South]," he replied.
"Well, W., I am so glad to meet you, and I share your lack of patience in the whole deplaning process, but don't you think we must be flexible? I mean, what are we losing by not dashing off the plane? Five minutes?"
In his most assured voice, he answered: “Nope, no flexibility in this. I'm going to want to get right off this plane!"
I laughed and tried to strike up a different conversation. He was having none of my flexibility talk, and he remained tense and aloof until something miraculous happened: we met at his "passion point." (Don't worry, no XXX here.)
Y spoke up. "Say, isn’t' that your red bag stowed up there across the aisle?" I confirmed.
"Honey, she's on our ship! I saw her cruise line tag!"
Mister immediately loosened up. "Are you on the Ms Eurodam?" he asked. Again, I confirmed.
This man opened up like an artesian well! He was an absolute fountain of information on the subject of cruises in general (he's been on 21) and on our cruise line in particular, it being one of his very favorites. Enthusiastically this couple began to feed me tips and, well, appetizers for the cruise because our conversation sure whetted my appetite for the cruise experience!
While we were talking, our meager airline lunch arrived. Pulling out an antibacterial wipe, W carefully washed down both sides of his tray table. Y smiled as she said, "He's just as meticulous at home! Everything must be clean, clean, clean! I consider it my bonus!"
We spent the rest of the flight in our pleasant cruise conversation, quickly become “old friends.” Our plane landed in Florida, and I jumped right up out of my seat as soon as possible, true to my word.
As we left, W said sheepishly, "You know, I don't often tell people how many times I've cruised--this is my second this year."
"Why?" I asked.
"Well, they tend to think I'm crazy."
My reply: "who cares what they think?" This couple had found something they love to do, and they are passionate about it. I say, "Good for them!"
Just talking about cruises unwound W and made him such a great airplane seat mate. Regaling me with ship stories and tips made him forget about schedule anxiety, and it softened that meticulous streak. It's just all about finding what people are interested in, I guess.
During my week at sea, I never ran into W and Y. On our next-t0-last day, our cabin phone rang. It was W, offering to buy us a drink in one of the ship’s bars. My sister-in-law and I took him up on it. This couple was so relaxed (of course, they admitted to having several drinks before we got there, which could have helped).
W was just eager as could be to know if my cruise experience had lived up to his predictions. He was ecstatic to know that it had and wanted badly for me to right then go and begin arranging my next voyage because they give you “such good deals” when you book ahead from the ship. I declined, knowing that my budget would require some extensive planning before I could manage that.
As we parted company, they took my e mail address, promising pictures. And all I could think was, "God, You are soooo diverse in your creativity!"
So, as I thought about blogging the other day, I thought about W. He started out such an up-tight grouch; but once we connected, he was a delight! (Wouldn't want to live with him, mind you, but he was a great seat mate!). I think we all hunger for connections with each other and shared passions and sorrows...my thought for the day. C
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