Read Time: 3 minutes
On a recent flight to San Diego, I was ready to catch some zzz’s when a petite older lady sat in the middle seat of my row. Zedd was already blasting through my earbuds (though not audible to anyone else) and I started dozing off to get some rest before before hitting the beach.
Then suddenly, I felt it. Was I being held at gunpoint? Had that breakfast burrito backfired and left my stomach in knots?
Nope. None of that. Instead, my sweet little seatmate suddenly had elbows with the wingspan of an eagle. Her elbow was a college kid after a hard night of partying. My left side? A cushy dorm room mattress.
I shifted, tried to protect my side with my arms, grunted in annoyance… she seemed completely out of f*cks to give. Her elbow was planted like a redwood. Annoyed, I decided I’d say something but I didn’t want to come across like an ice queen. To lighten the mood, before I asked her to remove her elbow from my person, I asked her if she was doing anything fun once we landed.
One Question Changed Everything
In an instant she lit up! There was a new twinkle in her eye. And more importantly her elbow had found itself a new home on her side of the arm rest before I even got to mention it.
A simple question showing interest in her day had provided an opportunity for us to connect on a deeper level. It also gave me 3 reasons to talk to strangers when I fly.
- To Gain Perspective
People travel for a lot of different reasons. Work, play, births, deaths… the events in life that cause people to hop on a plane are usually pretty interesting. I was traveling to watch 2 friends get married in a state that would legally recognize their union. My new friend was traveling to visit her lifelong pal who’d had a stroke and was a shut in at a nursing home. This annual trek was the only time her friend got to taste a bit of freedom from the nursing home walls.
- To Be Uncomfortable
Believe it or not. Being uncomfortable is a good thing and one of the best ways to grow as a person. Sure, it’s easy to pop in your headphones and escape to a musical paradise, buttalking to strangers will exercise your brain and keep you on your toes. You don’t know where their story is going next. And I’d bet it’s going somewhere a lot more interesting than that Katy Perry song you’ve had on repeat for the last 3 days.
- To Reconnect With Humanity
Cell phones and tablets and laptops and video games… we have so many ways to connect with other without really having to connect at all. When’s the last time you really looked at someone you didn’t know and thought about what it would be like to be in their shoes? Those interactions haven’t escaped everyone, but they have many of us. In the moments before we began talking, my seatmate was just someone bugging me. Twenty minutes later, I was in awe at her spirit and dedication to true friendship.
So I challenge you… the next time you hop on a flight don’t tune out the world around you. Take in. Say hi to the person seated next to you. Ask them how their day is. Chances are if you look for the good in people you will find it and you might just learn something new. If you try it out, leave a comment below and let me know how it goes!