People We Meet on a Plane

The idea of travel fascinates me. You travel from one place to another and you’re sat with maybe a hundred people or so for an hour or several. You wonder why these people are on the same flight as you? Where are they going? To see friends? Family? For work? For Vacation? 


Flying back from Washington DC, I sat in an airport for maybe an hour and a half and was surrounded by complete strangers. People would buzz by me on a mission and I sat in my terminal like a deer in headlights taking it all in. Watching the planes take off and land. People watching all the characters in my terminal. Making up stories in my head for the reason they’re flying. 

My flight back to Manchester was no problem. I sat in my window seat excited to watch DC pass by me and watch the big puffy clouds roll by. I haven’t traveled in years, especially with Covid, so I looked like a puppy excited to go on a car ride. A nice gentleman sat next to me. There was traffic on the tarmac so we had a little time to chat.


The gentleman’s name is Matt. He’s from Kansas City with a wife and two kids. His layover was in DC. He was visiting Manchester for a factory his company was building.

He was very curious about the structure of Massachusetts and asked if I was a local. I told I was and knew the area well. He complained how much of a mess Logan was, to which I completely agreed. In my head, I always thought Logan International was on that chart of good, neutral, and evil. Logan was a solid Lawful Evil because while Logan tries to do good but it’s a whole hot mess…Matt had no idea what I was talking about. He seemed young enough to be somewhere as a younger millennial, as he talked about his college days with a clear conscience like it was yesterday and we even talked about his drinking days; his favorite drinks and some such.

Matt was still confused about the structure of Massachusetts, which I never really thought about considering I lived here my entire life. The structure just made sense. You had Boston and its corresponding suburbs, Metro-West towns in the 128 and 495 corridor, and everything past that. It goes City -> Suburban -> Woods. And then you have UMass with the trees and the cows and no service!


When I told him I was a college student, he promptly asked which school, to which I responded, UMass Amherst. Matt instantly responded, “Oooh Zoomass eh?” So he knew UMass and the reputation of the school. 


He asked the age old question of why I went to UMass. I told him I was a broadcast journalism major and UMass was really the only affordable option, but I went because of the broadcast professor they had there. I wanted to be a TV Meteorologist and said that I was finishing up one degree and starting another in the fall. He could tell from how I sounded that I was tired and defeated and he asked ‘why, isn’t college the best years of your life?’


I wish I could have said yes.  


Matt had this Kansas City accent which I never heard before and I think he didn’t have an accent at all, but as I listened to him more and more, the accent became more clear. He also said that I didn’t have the stereotypical Boston accent. I told him that not everyone from Massachusetts has an accent and furthermore I grew up with a mom from Jersey and a local dad so it’s a weird cross-hybrid of Jersey girl meets Boston suburbans.


Now I made this new friend but then I realized…I would never see him ever again. I knew his whole life story within our hour flight. I knew he had kids, what his job entailed, where he went to school, what his favorite drink was, and even what he was listening to on the flight. I knew so much about him in such a short period of time. and in some fashion I felt like I was bonded to him. Not in the creepy Twilight way where Jacob imprints on Bella’s daughter and is bonded to her in that type of way, but I pour out my guts to this one random guy on a plane cause I was stuck sitting next to him for an hour type of way.


The plane landed.


and as soon as I walked out of the airport and looked behind me and waved…that would be the last time I would ever see him. 


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