I sat down by the window, and the guy in the aisle seat made small talk with me. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I’m not a big talker on planes.
We’d boarded in the first seating group, so before too long there were only middle seats left. Our middle spot was open until the last guy walked onto the plane. He sat down between us.
The two dudes immediately began chatting — work, where each other lived, went to school, hobbies, best vacation spots, confessions (one was terrified of flying) — and within minutes they were shaking hands and swapping first names.
Middle Seat guy was engaged, while Aisle Man spoke about his kids most of the time. Middle Seat played soccer in college, and Aisle Man ended up bending his ear on good soccer clubs for his son.
I’ve never heard a more refreshingly mature conversation between two dudes. They didn’t talk about getting hammered, sexual conquests, hooking up, drinking on the job or the last time they flew somewhere and munched on pot brownies to ease their flight tensions (these topics, by the way, are ones I heard discussed two weeks ago on my last business trip).
They didn’t talk about salary, their latest bonus or their cars. They talked like two dudes who were smart, interesting, well-traveled, well-read, articulate, kind and multi-dimensional. They talked about swimming with sharks, learning new languages and countries they wanted to visit so they could “experience the cuisine.” I sat back and listened.
“Just stick with it,” Middle told Aisle regarding the latter’s son whose interest in soccer waxes and wanes like moon.
That phrase was said over and over and over in their discussion, as though it’s always that easy.
Stick with it.
I remembered back to my last work trip; I sat by an older man who told me that a spot we flew over in Santa Barbara is where he first kissed the girl he ended up marrying. I imagined them going through hard times over the years and them both just sticking with it.
I thought about my parents and how they’ve stuck with it.
I thought about Middle and his engagement. I wondered whether they’d last. He seemed quite nice, and I could practically picture the kind of woman his fiancé must be. But if they hit a rough patch sometime in life, depending on what that patch was, would he follow his own advice? Would they stick with it then?
We landed, and I was a little surprised they didn’t exchange numbers. They shook hands again and went their separate ways.
When we overhear things, I think we always hear them for a reason. Tonight wasn’t just two dudes talking — it was a conversation that could’ve been applied to my own life, too. Writing? Stick with it. Dreams of travel? Stick with them, then go and experience — the cuisine, the language, the immersion.
It wasn’t an earth-shatteringly deep discussion by any means, but it certainly resonated deep within me. So tonight, I am thankful for the bromance in row four, and for the fact that — had those two guys been anything other than their chatty selves — I never would’ve reflected the way I did.