2012.01.18 Flying with strangers is good for a laugh

Written by David Green.


Level 3, Brown, Zone E4

I texted that to three people when we parked at the Big Blue garage at Detroit Metro before flying to Savannah a couple weeks ago. And David wrote it on a piece of paper. And I repeated it over and over to myself until I had a chance to also write it down.

But do you think we could find our car when we arrived back in Detroit? We walked all over hell and half of Georgia, suitcases in tow, listening for the honking as David pressed the alarm button on the remote car door opener, before realizing that we needed to lug our suitcases up a flight of stairs. 

Echolocation is not the easiest thing in the Big Blue, but we’d probably still be there searching for our car if not for that alarm button. We’re in the market for a new-to-us car and, after this episode, “remote car door opener” rose to the top of the list of required features in any vehicle we buy. 

Locating our vehicle was the only blip in a very lovely long weekend in Savannah—except for GMO Guy.

We changed planes in Charlotte on our way to Savannah and sat across from a long-winded guy who seemed a bit full of himself—and full of talk about GMOs. His poor seatmate—she patiently listened as he went on and on about his company and what they were doing with the latest generation of seeds and how they were modifying them.

They were both around 60, I’d say, she with a long, long faded blonde braid all the  way down her back, dressed in cotton and wools and looking very earthy. GMO Guy finally took a breather and seemed to assess his captive.

“Do you understand genetics at all?” he asked.

“Well, I went to Oberlin...” she said, her voice trailing off, as if that explained why she might not understand what this guy was telling her.

Oberlin is a liberal arts college and conservatory of music in Ohio known for its academic and musical excellence and its commitment to social justice, sustainability, and diversity. If genetics was among the course offerings, Blonde Braid didn’t sign up.

But she was a real trouper of a seatmate, nodding her head and interjecting with an occasional “Huh,” and an “Oh,” and an “Ah.” She was reading “The Universe is a Green Dragon: A Cosmic Creation Story.” I never heard of it, but I’m guessing someone reading that probably isn’t tremendously interested in plant genetics.

He was reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” a book that says, I’m a literary kind of guy, a nice guy, a you-don’t-have-to-worry-about-me kind of guy. A book that wouldn’t let you know he was going to talk non-stop about genetic engineering. 

Planes are such weird places. You’re stuck. You’re sitting next to people you don’t know, cramped together for hours. It’s a rare plane ride these days when you can move to another seat; most flights I’ve been on this past year have been totally full.

But plane rides (especially on Southwest), are often a good source for an unexpected laugh. Flight attendants with a good sense of humor make flying so worthwhile.

As we took our seats on the return flight home, I noticed two high school boys a couple rows ahead of us rapidly scarfing down hamburgers as the rest of the passengers boarded.

Before the plane left the gate, one of the flight attendants was making her way down the aisle, helping passengers and closing the overhead bins.

She reached her hand out toward the boys as if to collect their McDonald’s bags. They each gobbled one more big bite and were putting the rest of the sandwich in the bag before handing it to her.

“Did you all see them giving me their food?!” she exclaimed to all of us within earshot.

The flight attendant looked bemused. 

“You boys need to know your rights!” she said. 

“I didn’t want your garbage, I just wanted a bite of your sandwich,” she joked.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016