Sunday, August 15, 2010


Recently, it took me two days to travel from Belgium to Vancouver, Washington, thanks to late airline departures and mechanical problems. At the time, I was livid that my smart phone would not connect once I was in the United States. However, something interesting happened; I started talking to people instead of fussing with my smart phone.

At JFK International Airport, a couple was sitting next to me—the woman was fast asleep. I said to the man, “Where are you going?” He replied, “I can’t tell you.” A fascinating, mysterious reply. Then he whispered, “We’re going to Italy. It is my wife’s birthday and she doesn’t know where we are going.”

He quietly went on to explain that they are from Alaska and that it was the first time they had ever left Alaska in the summer. She awakened, and I asked her how she felt about being on a journey and not knowing the destination. She smiled and said, “I trust him completely.”

They went out for lunch, and when they came back she was smiling broadly. He had given her the travel journal for Italy so she could read it on the overseas flight.

My plane was delayed and I missed my connecting flight. Fortunately, I received a hotel voucher. Once again, I found myself sitting on a bench next to a couple. The man said, “What hotel are you going to?” I told him, and he said, “I have a hint for you. Be sure to ask them for a refurbished room, for some of them are older and musty smelling.”

Once I arrived at the hotel, I said to the clerk, “There is word on the street that some of the rooms have a musty smell, and I’m allergic to mold.” She said, “Well, we can’t have that. Let me find you a good room.” Soon I found myself in a room on the newly remodeled executive floor, complete with a flat screen television and wonderful view.

Now are these two incidents significant in the realm of everyday life? Maybe not; however, both made my adventure more interesting. One of them was a great example of a couple caring about one another. The other conversation enhanced my physical comfort on a long journey.

I am convinced that if I had been engrossed in my smart phone I would have missed both of these conversations. On my final leg of the trip, I watched as people sat silently engrossed in their own smart phones. What interesting conversations were they missing with their fellow travelers?

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  1. What a great reminder of how valuable a personal connection can be. My daughter had a similiar experience traveling to Australia for a summer program. She missed her connecting flight from LA. Her phone was dead and she was forced to talk to other stranded passengers. She meet another student going to the same program. The spent the time together in a strange city. If the phone had worked she would have been talking or texting and she would have missed out on a great friendship.

  2. too many people are losing the art of conversation.

  3. Julia and Granny...When I think of just those two incidents, I smile. So many more interesting things happened.

    Today when I was out and about I complimented woman on her skirt...she went on to tell me how she got it in Italy. Of course, that led to why she was there etc..connected with her and had my smart phone totally turned off.