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and I think to myself – what a wonderful world

July 13, 2009

Today is a beautiful day. I picked up this trip because it was time and a half (even though it means I work six days this week). I did one flight to Sarasota, FL this morning, and have spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool. It’s crazy hot but the water was perfect and I brought sunscreen. This hotel is such a nice place and it’s nice to have some forced relaxation.

We’re in the middle of summer flying and I have never seen so many children on the planes. Last week I had an especially challenging day where we did five flights and every single flight I had some kind of unpleasantness. The first two were just general complainers (sitting at my elbow). The next one was a three year old (again at my elbow) who refused to do anything his granny asked him to do, screamed, and threatened to break her arm. The next flight the boy (maybe eleven years old) in the seat in front of me to the right had some kind of developmental problem. He was placid enough to begin with, but halfway through the flight became extremely loud. He was wailing, screaming, yelling threats to kill his mother (?), to have her put in jail, calling her rude names, hitting her, and pulling her hair. It was painful for everyone around them. I felt so helpless and sad for this lady. On my last flight I had five lap children (among many other children). They were evenly spaced throughout the cabin and cried in such a way that wherever you stood during the entire flight to Wichita you could hear a child crying. Who knew children were so organized?

There were a few people that redeemed the day though. There were three little boys who were sitting right next to me (behind the loud boy). They were all under seven and we had the most interesting conversation. The oldest one had a few paper airplanes with him. These weren’t your usual fold in half, fold two triangles, then two more triangles kinds of planes. Some had wings near the front. Some had landing gear that retracted. He told me he had learned how to make them by following patterns he found online. The internet never ceases to amaze me. This led to a conversation about airplanes. The two boys asked very intelligent questions about all the parts of the plane. The oldest one wants to be a pilot when he grows up.

The next man that really made me happy was on our flight from Knoxville to Atlanta. He was sitting at a window near the front of the plane – an older middle age black man dressed in a sharp suit. When we were in cruise he asked how high and how fast we were going. This is a fairly common question. I told him I thought we were at about 26,000 ft. and we could be going around 500 mph (I was wrong on both by the way). He was shocked and said it didn’t seem possible because it felt like we were barely moving. He said it was his first flight and he was overwhelmed with emotion. I didn’t want him to think I was laughing at him, but I was so pleased to hear him respond this way. It is rare to ever meet someone anymore who recognizes and admits what an amazing and awesome thing it is to fly 20 or 30,000 feet above the ground. Most people do it so often, or have grown up where it is commonplace, so it isn’t awe-inspiring anymore. He asked a few other questions that did make me wonder how he was so out of touch with the experience of flying, but I guess if you don’t live near an airport and you’ve never flown anywhere it is possible. The last thing he asked me that really amused me was when we started flying over a low blanket of clouds. He wondered how the pilots knew where we were going since they couldn’t see the ground anymore.

Looking back on last week makes today that much more beautiful. I spent most of the day sitting in the water reading a magazine, eating a perfect mango (88 cents at Walmart), and talking to my amusing colleague.

I thank God for days like today.

Currently reading: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

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