You may recall that air travel is low on my “things-I-like-to-do” list (see (Road Trip and I’m Back). I view flying as something to be endured. As such, while my body is flying, my mind goes to my “happy place”—whatever that means. Therefore, I can miss opportunities around me. But sometimes I come out of my self-imposed cocoon and actually connect with my fellow travelers.
On my recent flight, I plopped down in my seat and the lady next to me blurted out, “I’m kinda nervous; this is my first time flying.” I assured her it would be fine and told her about the scheduled “1-hour” flight ( thirty minutes on the ground/thirty minutes in the air). Once in Detroit, I showed her the monitors for connection information, walked her to her gate, and pointed out the closest restroom and nearest eatery (she had over two hours to fill). She thanked me profusely and we parted company. Most people, I have found, are good talkers—if only there is someone who will listen. Click To Tweet
Over the years, I’ve helped many people navigate an airport. Interestingly, every one was female. I guess that re-enforces the stereotype that guys don’t ask for directions. (For the record, I’m not opposed to doing so but only when I’m confident that my adviser won’t make things worse.)
Later, I struck up a conversation with a guy my age. We talked about his business and then his family, which segued into personal struggles. Conversation flowed easily. He would make a statement; I would respond with a thoughtful question. He would answer and the process would repeat. I wasn’t deeply probing, but I was I was being intentional. I couldn’t believe the details he was sharing, but as long as he wanted to talk, I was willing to listen. I made some positive observations he hadn’t realized and affirmed good in areas where he saw only frustration.
Suddenly, he blurted, “I can’t believe I’m telling you all this—I just met you!” He paused and became momentarily suspicious. “You’re not like an under-cover guy, trying to find out stuff about me, are you?”
That’s one I’d never heard. I assured him that wasn’t the case. “Some people say I’m a good listener,” I said.
“And I’m a good talker,” he beamed.
Most people, I have found, are good talkers—if only there is someone who will listen.
Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.