The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

There There

He is the man with dark, well-slicked hair and a perfectly pressed dress shirt–imposing even in the shuttle to the airplane. He helps a little old lady move her suitcase into the overhead bin with only one hand. Calm and assured, as if it were his private plane, he settles in.

Yet it is a sight to see, during take-off, how he grips the armrest in anxiety, the hair on his giant hand failing to hide how pale his knuckles become. As a child yells β€œWoooooo” in delight from the back of the plane, he looks away from the window and to the floor. He puffs out his cheeks as the airplane climbs, perhaps a louder exhale than he expects. He sits up straight, plants his feet. Then the old lady who accepted his help offers hers in return. Her arm stretches across the aisle to pat him sweetly on the wrist, as she trades humble smiles with her neighbor.

–Somewhere over Hungary

A gift from the sky. Budapest.

A gift from the sky. Budapest.

24 comments on “There There

  1. kiwiskan
    September 11, 2013

    I can so relate to this…

  2. Expat Eye
    September 11, 2013

    Aww, really cute! πŸ™‚

  3. hughcurtler
    September 11, 2013

    I know how he feels!

  4. joannerambling
    September 11, 2013

    Yeah even the most confident people can be scared of flying……………but not be……………

  5. keithsarahmacd
    September 12, 2013

    This put a smile on my face. πŸ™‚

  6. Kavi
    September 13, 2013

    I loved this. Isn’t it funny how we can have these assumptions about people, only to find out later there any so many other things hidden beneath the surface!

  7. Don
    October 3, 2013

    Beautiful piece.

  8. Marcella Rousseau
    October 9, 2013

    I’m a consoler. My dad, son, and ex-husband were afraid to fly. I love to fly. I love takeoff even though that is the most risky time for a plane. Airline pilots are typically very experienced. It’s best to enjoy the thrill of flying and leave it up to them. You have a better chance of surviving in a plane than you do in a car! People should worry when they’re in a car, not in a plane! I have experience taking flying lessons and believe me, just about everything that could go wrong, did! And yet I’m still here! I have no scars or bruises but just a lot of fun memories of stories that I love to tell to make the hair on the back of people’s necks stand at attention! Hahaha! Don’t waste your time worrying no matter how bumpy that landing might be! Planes “want” to fly. They are built to fly. Aerodynamics are ingenious and I marvel every time I see a plane take off from the airport near my house. I understand it and yet I still can’t believe it! I get goosebumps and I love, love, love it! The best way to cure fears of flying is to take flying lessons. In my studies, I purchased tapes about flying and in one of them there was an actual account of a passenger with no flying experience who had to fly and land the plane. (They didn’t say what happened to the pilot.) The control tower talked the passenger down with no problems (even though I was at the edge of my seat listening to the event.) So, that should tell you something about flying a plane!

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      October 9, 2013

      I love the idea that planes want to fly! How lovely! I always enjoy take-off, though i must admit, I am not a fan of landings. I have heard from pilot friends that much of the process is quite stream-lined these days. My Mom was a stewardess in the 60s and even then she wasn’t ever afraid.
      It’s nice to see people trading consolation, though. I can imagine you are a consoler, Marcella! πŸ™‚
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your view–

      • Marcella Rousseau
        October 10, 2013

        How nice that your mom was a stewardess! I’ve always liked stewardesses – they work so hard! Passengers never seemed to appreciate them but I did. If there was ever a problem (there never was) I like to think that I would have done anything to help them.
        I completely believe you when you say she was never afraid. You should ask her why : – ) I’d say because she trusted the pilots and because she trusted herself. She knew what to do in an emergency. Knowledge is power. Fear comes from lack of knowledge (fear of the unknown). How great that your mom was a stewardess. Thank you for sharing that!
        Say hello to your mom for me. Sisters in flight.
        Landings can be bumpy. Wind and speed are the causes. Too little speed and you feel like the plane dropped on the runway! Ouch! It’s a tricky balance. I’ve had a few rough landings myself as a pilot. Sometimes the nose gear gets stuck (to complicate the issue). I’ve had that happen to me. The pilot has to land keeping the nose up in that situation.

  9. JunkChuck
    October 17, 2014

    I’m not afraid to fly, but I hate it. Oh, how I hate it. Same result, though–this sure does resonate.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      October 18, 2014

      πŸ™‚ Well, perhaps you’ll late a little old lady console you. I think that made her flight, perhaps her week!

  10. sedge808
    October 17, 2014

    very cool.

  11. Bespoke Traveler
    October 19, 2014

    Your photo is intriguing! Is this a sculpture somewhere in Budapest?

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      October 20, 2014

      πŸ™‚ This was in Budapest, but it’s a paper sack colored like blue jeans. I was working at a friend’s apartment, when this bag came down from the sky (okay, the upper floor of the building). They were sending my friend a gift in a very unusual delivery system. It took me ages to cut it down since the wind kept catching it, and I’m not very brave about leaning out of windows!

      • Bespoke Traveler
        October 20, 2014

        Amazing story! So happy I asked you about it. Who sends gifts in giant paper bags that drop from the sky?! This must have taken a huge amount of effort to do.

      • thenicethingaboutstrangers
        October 21, 2014

        It was so funny. I told my friend and he was grateful that I had seen it. He got home late at night and if he’d heard something blowing around and banging on the window all night, he might have gotten spooked!

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