Long Distance Flights…and Friends

They usually say that one does not simply make friends when you’re travelling alone, for the obvious reason that you’re probably never going to remember each other.  That’s perhaps true, but I guess these things just happen.

About 12 hours ago, I landed at JFK International Airport.  Why?  College Open Houses for Barnard College and Wesleyan University, which may be elaborated in future posts.  It’s convenient, because it’s Easter Break (our equivalent to Spring Break).  So yeah, it was a 16 hour flight and when you’re squishing your butt into a pancake sitting down for too long in Economy class because the movies on the flight were too good to resist (in which I finally got around to watching Nebraska), among other reasons, you sometimes end up chatting with the people sitting next to you.

Please let me know that this doesn’t only happen to me, because I was just convinced after seeing how the other two lads next to me were chatting away six hours into the flight.

I don’t necessarily think that I was bored, so to speak.  For starters, the two lads (one was wearing a white shirt the other wore a purple polo.  Let’s call them Whitey and Bob respectively, for no reason at all) only spoke and understood Mandarin Chinese, which is not my forte despite my ethnicity.  Shameless.

Anyway, they have these beautiful blue forms for all passengers to fill out (those immigration things) and they’re only available in English.  I’m not sure how Whitey and Bob figured out I’m a fluent English speaker (maybe reading Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises gave that away), but they often asked me how to fill out Blank A or Blank B, or whether or not that last blank was asking for their signatures.  It was somewhat difficult to translate “number of family members travelling with you” into conversational Chinese (it’s easier said than done…) so that’s what made them laugh at my Putonghua from time to time.  I get that a lot.

Meanwhile, these were the guys who sat at the window seat and the “in-between”; I got the aisle seat.  So instead of going all Wipeout or Takeshi’s Castle over my already-sore legs from pulling a muscle breakdancing last Thursday, I often had to pause my movie, unbuckle my seatbelt and let them out to use the bathroom.  I don’t have a problem with that, but it was what often led to strange conversation topics that were completely irrelevant to the bathroom.  For example, Bob asked me about Nebraska and Saving Mr. Banks, and wondered if it was shown in Chinese (only subtitles).  It was…interesting.

I don’t really know if I necessarily have an actual point to this post, other than the fact that I often find myself making friends on the plane.  And by “making friends”, I mean the kind who I tend to walk out of the plane and to customs with still chatting about how the weather in New York was warmer than anticipated, college, airline food and why we were served breakfast at 10PM EST. No hugs, but just words.  Communication was crucial; so were the laughs…and Android chargers.

I’m pretty sure I’m never gonna see Whitey or Bob ever again.

I’m not sure if this only happens to me, because it happened a couple of times.  This is only one of the few that stuck with me, probably because it was fairly (very) recent.  That being said, my fantastic 24-hour detour to Beijing last summer was perhaps more…I don’t know, adventurous?  Maybe I’ll write about that in the future.  Let me know if I should; I’ll probably do it regardless.

At the end of the day, I suppose that sometimes friendship is not in the longevity of the relationship, but in the “memories” (if I may put it that way).  I’m pretty this point is proven in college.  Correct me if I’m wrong, because I’ll only know this fall.

Thanks for stopping by.  Don’t be a stranger.  That’s a wrap.



(Oh and yes, I’ve decided to have a proper ending to these posts now…just to force myself to be consistent, so to speak.  I made that up)

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2 thoughts on “Long Distance Flights…and Friends

  1. With longevity comes memories, and memories are the notes that makes the cadence of friendship.

    P.S. Do talk about the Beijing experience because I have had some rather strange “Whitey and Bob” stories as well!

    1. I just realised that the Beijing experience has almost nothing related to making friends on flights, but I will write about it anyway because it’s just something to remember

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