Tuesday, October 01, 2013

My Airport Story : Surrounded by Angels

So first and foremost I must admit that I suck at not talking with strangers. I do not know why. Actually I do think I know why. My mother. She is the most down to earth, sweetheart that you will ever meet. She can make friends anywhere and with anyone. It could be at a grocery store, in a book store, on the street. Its a gift and I believe I have it too. A special way to connect with someone in an ordinary setting. The knowing of how to connect with someone in an ordinary setting. This is a gift.

With that being said (sorry Auntie, you told me not to talk to strangers) that is what happened during my flight to Oman. I should also mention that I don’t just go up to everyone and anyone and strike up a conversation with them. The conversation USUALLY happens when they make the first move. That first move can be anything. A smile. A question. A look. A laugh. There are ways that people act that show a little piece of themselves just by the simple ways they can hold themselves, act towards the world, and act towards strangers. 

These were my airport angels:

1. Waiting in Edmonton airport buddy, a lady from the Yukon. Traveling back home from a funeral. Waited until I was finished my chapter on my Kobo before asking me my opinion on Kobo vs. IPad. Oh I gave her my thoughts alright and our conversation flowed right until she had to leave. It was a simple and honest conversation. Two travelers on journeys, awaiting the next step in their lives. Before she left she said if ever I was in the Yukon I had made a friend and would have a place to stay. And with that she left. My first angel on my dreaded trip across the world to meet my husband. 

2. My Toronto flight buddy, a gentleman from the film school in Toronto. This was only second flight in his entire life and during the ride we had some pretty nasty turbulence. Of course he was traveling with another buddy and I noticed that he was trying so hard to pretend like the turbulence did not bother him. Nearest me, he was gripping his computer very tightly. So abandoning my “I am going to listen to music and sleep this entire flight” plan, I took off my earbuds and just chatted with him. Simple conversation. Trying to help him relax. Afterwards, when we had arrived in Toronto, he thanked me for our conversation and went on his way. I hope I was an angel to him.

3. On the way to Turkey, the longest flight I have ever been on, I was sitting beside an older couple who did not speak any English. In fact, they spoke a different strain of Arabic that they only words anyone including the flying attendant were the words “tea” and “milk”, and the phrase “like a daughter.” Talk about being a little confused when the little lady would gabber on and on and on and on and on and on and on, but I smiled. She knew I did not understand her, but still she went on. And I continued smiling and I spoke to her in English and I knew she had no idea what I was saying, but she smiled. Her husband was the cutest old man ever and he made sure that when the drink cart came around that I got my tea and I got my milk. He was taking care of me. The lady and I became bathroom buddies, which was GREAT because I always feel like getting up to go to the bathroom during flights is a great inconvenience. I was even sitting on the aisle. But still. I have to get out of my chair and possibly wait in line for the two bathrooms that are available for the 200 passengers (I really don’t know how many were on that flight) and not feel my safe seatbelt around my waist. It was great when I finally understood the word for bathroom and we would both go up, I would watch the door and make sure nobody tried to get in while she was in (she did not know how to lock the door) and she would do the same for me (even though I definitely made sure the door was locked). We were buds. They made my ten hour flight better. A little confusing, but much better. My angels of comfort.

4. My angel at the Istanbul security. I recognized this man from my ten hour flight and we became buds trying to get to and through security. I hate airport security. I always feel like I am smuggling in something horrible WHEN I AM REALLY NOT! I cannot help it. I feel intimidated. We got to security and while it took (what felt like a million years) a moment to put all my electronics back into my bag, he waited for me. He made sure I got my stuff, brought me to the food court, offered to buy me a cup of tea and left me. I forget where he was traveling too, I believe Doha, but I could be mistaken. My angel, making sure I was where I should be. 

5. My friends at a cafe in Istanbul. A woman from China, traveling with her daughter and mother, taking in the sites of Europe. Their were finished their tour and they were on their way home. I was sitting in a corner drinking my (VERY) expensive bottle of water when this woman came and asked me to hold the table beside me. So I did. She found her mom and daughter and brought them to the table. After buying drinks she sat down and chatted with me about all the places they had seen and been. Asking questions. Answering questions. A great conversation. Her mother and daughter did not speak English. Yet they smiled. I had a six hour layover in Istanbul and this conversation took up two hours. It was fabulous. My angels. Making sure I was reminded that even though I am in a foreign part of the world, I am not alone. 

6. My flight from Istanbul to Oman was a quiet one. I had the entire row of seats to myself for the most part. It was then that I finally was able to catch some sleep. Once I got to the Muscat airport, I made my way through the motions and eventually was able to pick up my luggage. A lady with her family whom I recognized from my last flight was there. And we stood side by side, making small talk until (eventually and finally) all of our luggage was found. She was still waiting for one more piece of luggage when I got my last. I asked her if she wanted me to wait with her, she smiled, thanked me and told me that she would be fine. My angel of peace as the thoughts of “OH MY GOSH did they forget my luggage” roamed through my head.

7. The last man I met was from my last flight also. He made sure I knew where I was going . He told me that he was a teacher here in Muscat for three years and after I told him that my husband is a teacher as well, he gave me his phone number to give to my husband. A friendly invitation to get together if ever we needed teaching advice. I thanked him and he left. Life goes on and this is just a step to the great adventure waiting for me, thank you angel. For reminding me that everything is going to be alright and that life is only beginning. 

Finally I walked through big, white doors and there my husband was there. A huge smile and arms waiting. My airport adventure: Over. My new life adventure: beginning. 

I am so thankful for everyone who I met during my flight. My stranger friends, my angels. Without them it would have been one lonely and frightening flight. I am thankful that even though it started off scary, I continued to smile to strangers, to allow them to share their lives with me, their stories, to not be so caught up in my own world that I refused to see the blessings that were before me. I was blessed. I know not everyone gets these kinds of people on their flights. I don’t know if it was my smile, my trying hard to enjoy every moment of this strange adventure, but I was able to get caught up with my surroundings. And for that I am forever thankful. 

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