I love flying! And not just because you can get all over the world in very short order, no, my love of flying is due to the people you meet on a plane. I remember before I got married how many people would ask if I would ever try to sit next to a ‘pretty girl’. My personal experience, pretty girls don’t usually have much of a personality (no offense), or at least they don’t have one when they’re sitting next to me. Because of this, the conversational opportunities are next to nil. No, I prefer sitting next to war veterans, they have the coolest stories. In fact, in just the past 2 weeks I sat next to quite a few people with interesting stories. Here are 3 of them.

One lady I sat next to was an 88 year old headed for Idaho. She was complaining about her back hurting and the fact that she had to make 2 connections to get to her destination. I realize that old woman with complaining problems doesn’t sound like a fun person to have in the seat next to you, but I like a challenge. We chatted a bit and near the end of the flight she told us (myself and the lady seated next to me) about her dad the lawyer. One of his cases was a dispute between 2 farmers and some chickens.

The gist that I understood was that one both farmers claimed to own the chickens, the lawyer asked his client if he had any proof. He said yes, if I bang on a kettle in a certain way, they will all come running to him. So in a very unusual case, in the middle of the courtroom, there goes this farmer hitting a kettle and all these chickens came running to him. Judge sides with that farmer, case closed.

The thing that really hit me, I had heard this story before. I don’t know where, but here is the lady who’s dad did this. Small world.

The second one that really stood out was this 87 year old World War II vet (old people generally have better stories). He was on his way to California to visit his sister. He was taking pictures of everything and having a good old time chatting about some of his favorite places to visit. He had been a bombardier in the war when he was 19 and spent 10-11 months in Italy. I asked him his favorite place that he’s ever been…Israel. I look forward to putting that observation to the test.

Not too long ago I read about the last WW I vet passing away and it got me thinking about how much history is going with them. I remember reading somewhere that the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history. Certainly the legacy and what they fought for in each of those wars is something that we should never forget. The horrific evil they risked everything to overcome is not just a story we read about, it really happened.

The final one that really stood out was this young man (compared to my 2 previous compadres) from North Carolina. He works for Krispy Kreme and deals with international franchises. It seems like every once in a while you meet someone that you feel like you’ve known for years. He was kind of like that. He had the same phone as me and I was trying to figure out how to do something on it so I was asking him about that. From that point to the baggage pickup we talked the entire time. I love talking to people that travel as much as I do and he had some very interesting stories about places he has been for work. He primarily deals with the Caribbean and Latin America, but has also done work in Asia, specifically the Philippines.

I even got a very good pointer about needing a visa when transferring through China, even if you don’t leave the airport. Something that Alicia and I are going to be doing in June on our way to Vietnam and it would be a serious downer to fly all that way only to be sent home because we didn’t have the proper paperwork to get through the airport.

Chickens, bombs and donuts. There’s no telling what you can learn and hear about when flying. The key…have a personality! It doesn’t matter whether the person seated next to you is big or small (I prefer small so I’m not squished into my seat), young or old, chat them up and see what you can find out. I do make a point to listen to them as we talk…if they don’t want to, I shut up and read a book. Don’t be rude/annoying, but don’t be a wall either. You never know who you just might be seated next to.

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