The Nice Thing About Strangers

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

The Vocation

As people merge into a line to board our airplane, a Grandmother steps up and then steps back. She asks the boy behind me if he and I are waiting together. Since this is the Istanbul airport, she asks him in Turkish, and since we are boarding a flight to his home town of Vienna, he blinks at her and can’t reply. I turn with a grin, happy to be able to speak Turkish while I can, and tell her, “No, he looks like my brother, but my brother is much taller.” She explains that she didn’t want to cut between relatives. She and I grow close instead.

Her mascara is white, or her eyelashes are white. She is wearing freshly applied pink lipstick and Burberry plaid-framed glasses. She asks if I am cold (yes, this is a theme). I’m in a sleeveless shirt, my usual for flights since I am nearly always warm on an airplane. She says she is cold, even though she’s wearing two sweaters and a jacket.

Down the jetway, we chat for a while about her vacation ahead in Austria, her sisters and how long they have lived there, and how she will also go to beautiful Budapest. We agree it is a magnificent city. Once we step into the plane, there’s a wave of heat, like someone has opened an oven to check on dinner. I lean toward her and ask if she is still cold. She laughs–“No, my girl ,not anymore.” At her seat, I tell her to “Have a nice trip, big sister,” and she laughs again.

I must admit, for the last few years, I’ve felt unsure about my purpose. I’m not sure where I should be or what I should be doing. She gives me a wave midway through the flight and I feel perhaps this is my odd vocation: to ease the long waits with fellow human beings, to look strangers in the eye, and to be grateful that smiling is in my nature.

–In flight between Istanbul and Vienna

Krakow, Poland.

Krakow, Poland.


9 comments on “The Vocation

  1. michaelwatsonvt
    April 27, 2016

    Seems to me you are touching the lives of many people in powerful, memorable ways. I find it hard to imagine a better use for one’s life and self.

    • Thank you, Michael! 🙂 Sometimes I wonder when I’ll want to settle down somewhere, but perhaps for now the roaming can be a part of my purpose. I hope so! 🙂

  2. Darlene
    April 27, 2016

    There can be no better purpose than to make others feel comfortable. As Emily Dickinson said, “They might not need me; but they might. I’ll let my head be just in sight; a smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity.”

  3. joannerambling
    April 27, 2016

    Nice I like the image this brings to mind

  4. sweetexp
    April 27, 2016

    Ah, this is so exciting and wonderful to read Paige. I am at work and stopped on a break to taste the beauty of your writing style. Love the Austria and Budapest combo. Also …..Just LOVE the air travel beautiful scene:)


    P.S. Tammy mentioned some TAMCON goodies on today’s show;)

    • If you hear Tamcon dates, please email me! I’m heading East for some book events, and I’d love to be able to get there as well. 🙂
      Thank you so much, Keith. You made my evening.

  5. sweetexp
    April 29, 2016

    You inspire me so Paige, I will keep you in the loop! You, Paige, are super blessed! An awesome Canadian and Colorado woman.

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This entry was posted on April 27, 2016 by in Happiness, Inspiration, people watching, Turkey, Writing.

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