I’ve always loved to travel. Part of what I enjoyed was the randomness of picking an aisle and a seat and getting to know the person I was sitting next to. This is a story of three separate flights. Each one allowed me to glean something very special and endearing.
The first story happened when I was on a trip to Oregon. Our son was away at college, and I sat next to two young girls, ages 10 and 11. Their moms were sitting in the aisle behind us with one of their younger brothers. They asked me to play tic, tac, toe, and they had a book of word games one could play while traveling. Of course, I obliged. As the flight continued, they told me everything about their lives. They were all going on vacation to hike, swim and have fun.
The 11-year-old was incredibly mature for her age and she shared with me a story that had happened recently. She told me she had been walking home from school and was nearly a block away from her home when she noticed a man was sitting in a car nearby watching her. She crossed the street and made it home safely. The car drove away, but she was astute enough to get the make and color of the car. The next morning her parents took her to school and reported what had happened. In fact, she had not been the only one that happened to. Her dad then drove her to school each day and her mom picked her up.
I said, “Wow, you certainly have good intuition!” And I continued, adding that her “sense of internal guidance” had let her know something was wrong and that she handled it well. She smiled and listened to me. I told her that it was her gift that she had and to always remember to trust that gift. I said, “You’re young, but that gift is instilled in us from birth.” In fact, there’s a book called “The Gift Of Fear” by Gavin De Becker and in it he says to always trust that “gift of intuition.” As I looked at the other young girl, she was staring at me intently and nodding her head in agreement.
We continued to chat and when the pilot came on the loudspeaker and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are preparing to land and to please fasten your seat belts.” You could tell how excited they were as their next adventure was about to begin.
After we landed and were taxiing to the terminal, the 11-year-old turned to me and said, “This was the best flight, I’ve ever been on. I really enjoyed sitting next to you.”
The other gal said, “Me too!” I told them both that I had a wonderful time as well and to take care and remember your “gift of intuition,” and if something doesn’t seem right then to trust your internal guidance. We did a group hug and I wished them well.
Another time, again traveling to Oregon, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a young man who was a firefighter and had been working in Idaho and Montana. He was going to spend the week visiting with his parents. He had just worked on the frontline of the wildfires and was finally able to take a few days off. I looked at him and listened as he told me what it was like firsthand combatting fires during times of drought. You could tell he was proud of his work. He was 29 and his stories were impressive. You know when you meet someone, and it becomes apparent that they were and are loved by their parents. There is a sort of “je ne sais quoi” about them, a general confidence they carry.
We shared stories about our lives and at one point he was going to order a drink from the flight attendant, and he asked me what I was drinking. I said, “Water.” He giggled and asked me if I wanted anything, I told him no thank you, explaining that I had to drive once we landed. Toward the end of our flight, I wished him well and to stay safe out there! I said, “Alex, when you see your parents, please let them know that they have a terrific son, and they did a wonderful job raising you.”
He coyly added, well my mom told me she named me after “Alexander The Great.”
I shook his hand and said, “It’s no wonder, then.”
I have always had nice experiences meeting people while flying. One day I had a layover in Seattle, and while waiting to board I was looking at an in-flight magazine and saw a column that was submitted by a writer, and it inspired me. As I made my way into the plane, there was a passenger sitting in Aisle 11, Seat A, and it just so happened he would be the one I would be sitting next to. He introduced himself as Lange Darugani. He knew so much about life, I felt as if I was next to a wise sage.
He offered sound advice as I chatted about decisions I had made, things I thought I should be smarter about, questions about the future. And regardless of what I would say, he didn’t say anything that could be construed as anything less than positive. I got the feeling he was on my team. In fact, I felt as if he knew me, but that was impossible. We hadn’t met before.
Amazing how a great conversation can make the time fly, pun intended. As we departed the plane I said, “It was delightful sitting next to you, see you in the baggage claim.” He nodded back. I wanted to ask him if we could stay in touch. I thought I’d give him my email address when I was getting my suitcase.
As I waited for him to show up, I asked the person at baggage claim if there was a way to check if Lange had picked up his luggage. She directed me to another person. I was honest in my approach and said, “I had such a nice conversation with the person I sat next to in Aisle 11, Seat A and just wanted to confirm if Lange Darugani had already picked up his luggage?” Sensing I meant no harm, she looked at the computer and she seemed perplexed…she didn’t have a passenger by that name on the flight I had been on.
Hmmm…. I wondered, that’s odd, well maybe I didn’t get his name correctly. On the Flyaway bus ride home, I got a pen and paper out and wrote: Lange Darugani. I looked at it and said, “Who are you?” Why did I have the pleasure of getting to sit next to you and be given such sound advice? As I was staring at the name, something caught my eye. I took my pen and rearranged the name Lange, and I came up with Angel. Then I did the same with the last name, and I came up with Guardian. Ah!!! Well of course, it was beginning to make sense. When I got home I went through the garage to get into the house, and my all too familiar sign by the screen door greeted me with: “All of God’s Angels Come To Us Disguised.”
And I smiled, knowing something wonderful had just occurred.
Jennifer Danny is a Santa Clarita resident.