Recognized Social Butterfly


Feel-good Encounters with Strangers

When my wife, my son and his three young boys, and my visiting granddaughter and I spent the day at a water park in Wilmington, NC, I (water amusement park phobic) was the designated protector of the valuables. All of the stuff that I had to guard took up half of a long table. Although I was shaded by a supersized canopy, the plus-90 degree heat was stifling; and observing mostly overweight people pass by (with a few eye-catching exceptions) was disheartening.

I didn’t particularly want or expect any company, but soon a woman with her two children and a niece (about the same age as my four grandkids) placed their paraphernalia on the other side of the table. Not wanting to be unsociable, I introduced myself to these strangers. The average-looking middle-aged mother explained that they were at the waterpark to celebrate her niece’s birthday. Much later, her husband would join them at a nearby restaurant. After she at length offered commonplace tidbits about her family, she asked me about mine. I reciprocated, just touching upon, as she did, matter-of-fact details. Whenever she and her crew frequently returned from the water amusements to get refreshed, we chatted some more, occasionally revealing some harmless personal information.

To set the record straight, I wasn’t flirting with this wholesome, good-natured woman; I was just being chummy (as my charming self) in order to make the time pass more quickly. We spoke on and off for about three hours.

I wanted to thank this woman for enlivening my stay at the park: as she left, I said that she looked a little like Sandra Bullock, but without her screechy, manic voice as the super-villain in the movie Minions, a show that my wife and I had recently seen with some of our grandkids. The woman beamed at the compliment and briefly stroked my arm. Camaraderie welcomed!

I experienced the kindness of strangers a week later on the taxing 6-hour flight from Portland, OR, to Honolulu. Earlier that day, my wife and I had flown 4 hours from Dallas to Portland. If I sit too long in a plane or even in my house, often my legs get edgy and insanely restless. During the late afternoon flight, I did pretty well, except for the last half hour.

But the next flight (even with a two-hour layover) began worse. Normally I get an aisle seat so that I can get up without disturbing anyone sitting next to me and then frequently walk about the cabin. But this time, I ended up at a window seat in the premium section, with two big guys between me and the all-too-be desired aisle seat. It didn’t take long for my legs to act up; being trapped in the corner, (extra leg room notwithstanding) didn’t help any either. I tried to remain in my seat, but after a few minutes, I was compelled to wriggle past my two seatmates. The first leg of Mission accomplished!

I was able to walk the whole length of the cabin because the three unusually attractive young lady flight attendants were ready to serve food and drinks from the back of the plane. I ducked into a restroom just before they passed by. I now had lots of time to stand and do foot exercises in the flight attendant’s inner sanctum.

When the trio returned, I presumed they would tell me to go back to my seat. But after I explained about my leg complications, they graciously said that I could stay where I was, with a little fancy footwork, while they puttered about in their domain. However, if there was any turbulence, I would have to go back to my original seat. Fortunately, there wasn’t any. It was fascinating to see the attendants put in and take out various assembled food and drinks from an array of deep-set cubbyholes. I was welcome to watch these procedures, no matter how many attendants stayed with me. They even let me remain there while they were reading novels during their breaks.

When the man who serviced the first-class passengers came by to deposit some trash, he (earlier aware that I needed to stand as long as possible) also encouraged me to stay with the attendants; he even gave me a chewy treat before he went back to the front of the plane.

Such hospitality from strangers six-thousand miles apart!  This week, from a mainland waterpark at the East Coast to an Alaskan airlines plane on route to Hawaii, the Aloha spirit prevailed.



Recognized Social Butterfly


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Silver Conversationalist

Hey Schlomo - Your "feel good experience with strangers"  is producing a feel good experience for me.  Thanks!  Smiley Happy

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