The People You Meet on Planes

People watching and airports go hand in hand, but I also very much enjoy the part once you sit down in your seat on the plane and get to watch people board.

The cute guy you’ve had your eye on since the gate waiting area slows down only to sit in the row behind you. Who will you end up? A chatty grandma type? The biggest guy on the plane? A small child somewhere between the age of sleeps a lot and can understand and tolerate the flight process?

Each option approaches. You hold your breath. (If you’re being dramatic.) The person passes. Dad age guys are good. People just like you are good. Cute guys are good if you’re not planning on sleeping. Snoring. Drooling. Accidentally leaning on him. (I’m not sure I’ve ever actually done any of these things, but there’s always the possibility.)

This time I ended up with a disheveled lady with a dog and a boy who never said a word. It could have been worse.

Contrary to what you may think if you know me, I’m not always the talker on the plane. I would say I very rarely start convos. Sure I may exchange pleasantries, but more often I’m listening to my Ipod or trying to sleep. If it’s a flight where the latter is preferred because of either hour or duration of the flight, there’s a good chance I’ve imbibed in what I like to refer to as a zanny cocktail.

One time I woke up during landing after sleeping the entire flight and the lady next to me couldn’t help it. “You sure slept well.” “Yeah I was really tired…and I took some pills.” Sometimes you need a sleep guarantee.

Other fun flight mate stories:

– Early on in my obsession with marathoning Friday Night Lights, I was watching it and the parent-age couple next to me got really excited for me. They had seen this episode. They were super cute and watched with me, not minding they couldn’t hear, because they already knew. It wasn’t long before I understood their love for the show. I still miss Riggins like whoa.

– Once on an international flight, I was seated behind a couple of elderly ladies I began referring to as the Golden Girls. Except instead of cheesecake they liked alcohol. Wine. Mixed Drinks. They were wasted. And it was hilarious. They got loud like young girls. I couldn’t believe the flight attendant never cut them off, but I guess she found it amusing as well.

– One Christmas season a few years ago I was flying back to St. Louis and had the awesome bulkhead spot. I love this seat because you’ve got leg room, and you get to see everyone as they get on. This particular flight I sat next to a guy who was somehow responsible for the locks of Katy Perry and Zooey Deschanel. I forget which one he mentioned first but when I compared her hair at that time to the other, he told me there was good reason for that. I forget now what exactly he did, but it was a fun convo for me.

– Another time I was flying home from St. Louis and sitting next to a nice Dad-type. Behind us were two male coworkers who gossiped like a couple of girls about everyone in their workplace. It was like I was getting a peek behind the curtain. I looked at the guy next to me and was like, guys gossip just as much! I mean the convo they were having was no different than what I’ve talked to female coworkers about. Except they were maybe a little more interested in who made what salary. Altho I’m sure I’ve at some point had similar convos.

– When I was an au pair flying back and forth to Paris, I sat next to an Italian couple who tried to get me to be their nanny. The guy was a wedding dress designer and they had a baby girl. It may have been my first flight to start working in Paris so I was excited (and hadn’t yet met the kids’ mom). I also think they lived in Milan and I wasn’t a fan of Milan. We did exchange email addresses, but nothing ever came of it.

– On a flight to Toronto we were sitting in a front of a girl and her two dogs. She was super nice and personable. Later that day I was watching tv in the hotel room and there she was on some Canadian show.

– I’ve shared planes with random celebrities, but the best encounter I had was when I was middle school. My little sister and I were flying to Texas to visit friends. When we walked past first class, we saw Lulu Roman sitting there. I’m going to guess you don’t even know who Lulu is, but we did because our mom was obsessed with her. We had listened to her music since we could remember. And we watched a lot of Hee Haw in our house. We sat down in that plane knowing we had to talk to her. But which one of us? We had never seen anyone “famous” before. (Ha! If only I knew then what my life would become!) Somehow we got up the courage during the flight and walked up to her (together) and told her how much our mom loved her. And we walked away with an autograph. At the time, I was sure she was thrilled to have young people recognize her. I remember her being super nice.

– But it was perhaps my flight with Chrissy Seaver to Austin for SXSW that has been the most memorable passenger-wise. My friend J and I were seated in a front of an old guy, young girl and young guy. (Chrissy Seaver was across the aisle, behind our friend G.) The guy and girl behind us didn’t know each other when they got on the plane, but I woke up midflight to them getting to know each other pretty well. J was freaking out. How had I slept through what was happening? To which I said, WHY DIDN’T YOU WAKE ME UP?? Apparently they decided they needed more than what sitting in their seats was allowing (poor old guy next to them) and got up to go to the bathroom. The door had been shut for maybe one second before the flight attendants realized what was up and started knocking. The duo wasn’t even embarrassed as they returned to their seats. Which wasn’t surprising as their convos had been loud enough for the back half of the plane to hear. Insert dirty talk in a child voice here. We bonded with Chrissy Seaver over the whole hilarious situation and have re-enacted the overheard convos several times.

So maybe I like watching people get on the plane because all of the possibility their presence offers. I love a good random story.

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