Thursday, July 12, 2007

Coincidental Stranger Remeetings

I like James' suggestion that this could make for a good band or album name. Once I get to where I can play and am ready to do the band thing, I'll pull this little gem out of the recesses of my mind. Unless I forget, which seems to happen quite a bit these days.

I was traveling a bit recently, and ended up on a red-eye from LAX. I could start a rant now about how much I hate LAX -- how that was considered during our decision process on moving to Santa Barbara, because we'd have to use it as our primary jumping off point. We still moved here, but LAX was definitely on the "Con" list. But I won't do that. Suffice it to say it's one of my least favorite airports, and the lines are nearly unbearable. I was in the security line at 9:30 for a 12:30 flight, and it's a good thing, too. Took me 2 hours to get through that line.

Standing in line for 2 hours gives you a lot of time to people watch. Late at night, most of the people you have available to you to watch are the folks in line around you, especially when you are traveling alone and have no companions to talk to nor your iPod to listen to.

There was the girl who had decided she wanted to visit all the places she wanted to go by the time she was 30. She was probably 25, from New York. She was headed to China this trip and had gotten back from New Zealand on her last trip, or vice versa, but she had 10 more places she wanted to go before that self-imposed deadline. After that, she figured she'd make a new list of places she wanted to go or go back to the places she especially liked. Nice goal, I figure. The world could use a few more people that are knowledgeable about other cultures, and what better way to learn about them then to go there and experience them?

There was the 40-ish lady with her daughter and the daughter's friend. The kids were probably 8 or 9, and they were playing the one-up game. Each was trying to show how they, or someone they knew, were better. Everything from boys they thought liked them to how many DVDs they had to how expensive their cell phones were to what their dads did. I never did figure out where they were traveling to, but I did wonder how long a combative friendship like that can last.

There was the family with two small kids, probably 1 and 3. The parents spoke Spanish or Portuguese -- couldn't really tell since they talked so fast. Well, that, and the fact that I don't speak either language. The older boy had obviously been asleep for a while, but the crying of his younger sibling woke him up and then he was cranky. The younger kid was hungry, so the mom was breastfeeding him there in line. As they got closer to the screening station, she tried to stop, but the baby became hysterical almost instantly. So the father and the older boy put the stroller and luggage through the machine, while the mother kept feeding and stepped out of line for a while. What shocked me most was that while they were obviously stressed they weren't fighting. If it were my parents with my sister and I at that age, they'd have been out of control.

Right in front of me were two couples that didn't really talk about their destination, but did talk about small towns and how backward they can be. For close to two hours. Except when they were laughing and pointing at the poor family struggling with their little kids. I would have thought they were terrible people, and ignored them for the rest of the line time, but one of the guys looked so much like someone I knew that I remained interested. I knew it wasn't the person in question, but I really admire the guy this stranger reminded me of. The guy I know is a customer of ours, with 5 kids where the oldest is 6. There is a set of twins there, but he is so jealous that his wife gets to stay home with the younger ones. His oldest goes to 1st grade across the street from his office, and he eats lunch with her at least 4 times a week ("Sometimes I like to go out with the folks in the office, but not too often."). Just a great guy with his priorities straight. He's very short with glasses and a shaved head. So, to find a guy in line that looked like this had me thinking about the other guy. Don't bother me with the irony that a make-fun-of-the-family guy reminded me of a real family guy. Whatever -- purely a physical likeness.

Regardless, because I noticed this guy while in line, I noticed him again when I got to my gate. Apparently he's on my flight to Minneapolis. And because I noticed him there, I noticed him again after we boarded, as he was sitting on my row. It made me wonder how often we re-meet strangers but never know it because we didn't notice them the first time or even the second or subsequent times. It was a very it's-a-small-world moment for me. I'm sure this happens more when we're involved in other stuff at the time, but it has to happen quite a bit when we never notice it. Especially, it would seem, in airports.

When I got back from my trip, we had a new movie in the mailbox (I love Netflix). It was called 11:14, and it tied into this whole thought process so nicely. This is a story about 5 different story lines that all come together at precisely 11:14pm. Sort of a similar vein as Babel, except this movie was less about the far-reaching impact of one's actions, and more about pure coincidence. You've got the drunk driver, the protective dad, the desperate boyfriend, the joyriding teens, the harried policeman, and they all keep running into each other, but not knowing that their paths will ultimately cross in a way only we movie watchers may really ever know. It is a brilliantly done movie, with spectacular attention to detial, and I'd defintely suggest it. Nice thought-provoking cinema on a story line I'd just started to really think about.

6 comments:

rev_justin said...

props to the D from the I, baby.

Stephanie said...

I know exactly what you mean about the meetings. For me, it happens everywhere, the bank, airports, random museum trips, etc. I think that we stay so busy in our own world, we don't even realize how often this could happen. At least for me, I used to just go through the moment rather than really living in it.

I'll check out the movie, have you seen Crash? It's another multi-story mixed together type movies. Netflix is right up there with sliced bread!

Heather said...

I did see Crash, but I had forgotten about it. It was so hyped that I have to say I expected more.

Monica said...

Funny story...When Matt and I went to Thailand 3 or 4 years ago, we had a connecting flight in Tokyo on the way there and again on the way back. On the flight from Tokyo back to the States was a guy I dated years ago before I met Matt. What are the chances of running into him flying from Tokyo to Dallas, and being on the same leg of a flight as my husband and I flying from Bangkok to Denver?

Heather said...

Monica -- I bet *that* wasn't awkward. :)

Monica said...

Well, it wasn't too bad. We didn't talk or anything, just saw each other. And I didn't say anything to Matt because I didn't want him weirded out for an entire flight.