Friday, May 22, 2015

Second Entry into Series: "Stories of People I Have Encountered"

One More Round

Last week I had the pleasure of flying four day trip with two lovely coworkers.  The man in his late forties, quiet with a kind voice, made everyone around him feel a little calmer.  He was in the army for ten years before working as a CSA in Fairbanks.  He met a woman on the job, a flight attendant which he actively pursued and married within six months.   They knew right away the way you can only know right away.  For a short time they lived a honeymoon life working and flying together before taking the big leap to have children.  Now they work completely separate schedules and might be home one night a week together.  It is for the kids.  He says it keeps things fresh. He carries a wallet size photo of his family with him at all times and pulls it out whenever they come up in conversation.  I saw him do this at least twice a day.  We had briefly worked together once or twice, but this was the first significant amount time we had spent together.  We worked in the back of the airplane together. 

The lady was up front in first class.  In her late fifties she could have passed for early 40s having taken good care of her body.  She doesn’t run but rather climbs on the treadmill and got fourth place in a body building competition when she was fifty.  She has barely any wrinkles on her face.  She used to commercial fish for 25 years in Alaska with her now ex-husband, the last of which they did together for the children even though their marriage had ended.  Her heart is light and she is just beginning to date again, after fifteen years devoted solely to motherhood.  This was my first time meeting her.

The three of us were starkly different.  I am a young mid-twenty with no family of my own and a pattering of life experience.   I have done a lot for my age.  I can be both loud and shy in one breath and while my life is coursing down a path, I often feel I have no direction.  I hoard all the newspapers the customers recycle and tear out the Crosswords and Sudoku’s.  I am happy to be left alone on the jumpseat filling in tiny squares on black and white paper while my coworkers lovingly tease me.

And so together the three of us worked a four day trip, flying up and down the west coast and throughout Alaska.  We got along swimmingly, each pulling their own weight, not asking too much of the others but stepping up to help as soon as they saw it was needed.  The work was relaxed and warm and we ended each day with energy to spare, a rare luxury.

The last night of our trip had us laying over in sunny Sitka, Alaska.  We landed in the afternoon and went our separate ways with loose plans to meet for drinks later, each unsure if the others would show.  The day passed, we wore ourselves out walking and running and exploring and when the hour to meet arrived so did we.

“I hardly ever go out with the crew” we whispered to each other.  “I usually just tell them I am going to work out and I’ll see them in the morning.”  “Me too.”  “Me too.”  “Let’s get another round of Makers Mark.”  “OK.” “OK.”

In this way the hours passed.  We talked about family, about God, about taking risks and making mistakes.  We heaped compliments on each other and at one crucial moment in the evening, a few drinks in, we all clasped hands and told each other how much we like and respect each other and how this has been one of the best crews yet.  It felt the way it does to deepen relationships and not just pass the time.  It felt like personal growth and community growth. 

They told me how impressed they were by me for my age and I listened with interest to their stories and their advice.  We went to our rooms a little dizzy but also a little more connected.  It wasn't anything incredibly special or deeply life changing.  And yet it was.  It was community.  I now know that there are two more people in the world who have my back.  I now know that there are two more people in the world that I will, in turn, be looking out for.  In the meantime, let’s have one more round with Mr. Mark.

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