I travel several times a year with my family, but very rarely do I travel on an airplane alone. When I go with the family, I usually spend the majority of the time paranoid about making sure my kids are the best-behaved on the plane so we don’t get dirty looks.* I traveled by myself for work last week. As I was packing my bag, I tried to decide which book to throw in. This was a big decision. The book you pick is the equivalent of a Choose Your Own Airplane Adventure. The book starts the path. I thought about the choices and my response to the question I would inevitably get: “What are you reading? Anything good?”
Harry Potter – “I’m re-reading the series before my tenth anniversary trip to the UK with my husband this summer. We’re going to see the new Harry Potter play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” This could turn into a conversation about Harry Potter, cult literature, travel, or theatre. Sounds fabulous. Plus, I really do want to re-read the whole series before June and Mr. T is already on book 6 and I’ve only finished re-reading 1!
The $100 Start-Up – “It’s a book about people from all over that started companies with very little start-up money. It was written by this guy that decided to travel to every single country in the world and successfully did it.” More travel possibilities and some entrepreneurial discussion as well. Or maybe a grumpy rant about work.
Your Money or Your Life – “This book is AMAZING. It talks about how you can become financially independent by making a simple chart tracking the potential income from your investments as well as your expenses. When the two lines cross, you’re financially independent! It’s that simple!” I love a good personal finance discussion, but more than half of them are with people that are unreasonable. Those aren’t fun. This one could go either way.
Any Political Book – “Oh, I picked this book up because I’m fascinated by him/her and I think they would be an amazing president.” First off, this would never happen in my life. I hate politics so much and would never own, read, or discuss any of those books. So, off the table…
Want to know what ACTUALLY happened?
- The Author – The first person I sat next to was a famous historical Alaskan author. I had never heard of him, but he’s a lovely man named Dan O’Neill. Apparently one of his books was under option with Leonardo DiCaprio for a movie for 15 years, but he let the options lapse and now a British company is look at it. He was absolutely the most interesting person I could have sat next to on the airplane. He told me about his latest book, Stubborn Gal, about a girl that decided she wanted to run a 60-mile dogsled race without having ever run dogs. She had two horrible practices and then ran the race. She got lost, but ended up winning the race. He told me it was the story of his wife and he wrote it for his grandchildren to see what kind of tough woman his wife was before she was as frail as she is today. She struggles with Type 1 Diabetes and walks with 2 canes and is very fragile. We had amazing discussions about travel, writing, entrepreneurship, Alaska, history, and healthcare. At the end of the flight, I wanted to invite him to my house to stay (though they no longer live in Alaska because of his wife’s health)! He was the greatest.
- The Single Mom – The second lady described herself as a “single mom success story.” She has since remarried, but as she told her now-husband when they were dating: “My priorities are: my children, my education, my job, and then you if I can find time.” He stuck around. Her last child is graduating this year and she’ll be an empty-nester for the first time. She said for the first time in her life, she gets to figure out what she wants to do now. She doesn’t have to work to pay for them any more. She can live that life she wants to live. But after being a mom first for so long, she doesn’t know where to start. She’s giving herself until the end of the year to figure it out. What a story! What a perspective!
- The Vets – The third flight, I sat next to two veterans. One was older, one was younger. They spent the entire flight comparing stories of their PTSD. “Next time you’re at Walmart, see if you can spot the Vet. They keep the wife and kids in front of them and walk behind them a bit looking around because the threat is always behind you.” It was perhaps the saddest conversation I’ve ever heard. If you or someone you know fought for your country, THANK YOU. And I’m so sorry for the struggles you face every day that the rest of us will never understand! The older Vet was flying back from proposing to his girlfriend in Hawaii. He said: “I’m headed home to quit my job and move to Hilo, Hawaii! It’s time to retire!”
- The Alaska Aces – On my flight home, I sat with the whole Alaska Aces hockey team. They talked hockey and I was glad I had been to one of their games.
Which book ended up triggering all these responses**? The $100 Start Up! These were all very interesting, intriguing people, but I wonder what the conversation would have been like if I had brought a different book.
What experiences do you have with books on an airplane? Met any interesting people?
*My kids are very well behaved and we rarely have an issue, but people still give dirty looks to any kids on planes. That annoys me. Also, I’ve seen the Pinterest idea of giving everyone on the plane treats because you brought a child on board. I hate it. Everyone should be giving ME treats for being the one that is brave enough to travel with three children. I shouldn’t have to apologize for having kids or taking them places. That’s ridiculous. Rant over.
**Except the Aces – they talked hockey regardless of what I was reading