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Stranger on a plane

I originally posted this on Facebook Oct. 20, 2015. I thought I’d resurrect it today, Sept. 11, 2016. As for the guy on the plane, he was a man of few words. And they were always the same.

Oct. 20, 2015

Many, many times since the 1980s I’ve taken that approaching flight path into Newark airport from the north. You know, where you’re coming in with Manhattan on your left? And you can see the city (or, as I call it, The City). Always breathtaking, especially at night. Last night, in the leg of our trip from Vermont to Newark, we took that flight path.

Lizzie and I were in the row on the right of the airplane (damn!). But I glanced past the guy in the single seat across the aisle on our left (OK, this is much more detail than I wanted to include: it was a small jet from Vermont with one row of seats on the left of the plane and two rows on the right). So I was looking in front of this guy’s head through his window; then he’d lean forward, and I’d look behind his head. And I knew the scene was about to unfold. So I took my phone and started video’ing(?) (it sure as hell isn’t “filming”) through his window. And he noticed what I was doing and backed out of the way, saying something like “Nothing like it, right?” The attached video here is the piece that resulted.

There is a kind of high spike of light in this grainy video (it sure as hell isn’t film), which I knew was Freedom Tower. As close as I’ve been to it, or am likely to be, in the foreseeable future. I knew it (the video) would suck (quality-wise). But it’s as close as I’ve been or am likely to be to Freedom Tower. So I couldn’t help myself.

After a few seconds of video’ing(?) through his smudgy window (I’m not saying he smudged it), I pan to the right and film (video?) in front of Lizzie’s face through the window to our right, catching, what, Newark?

Here’s what’s weird: This guy sat across from us as we waited at the gate in the terminal in Burlington. He was there again when I video’d this in the plane from Burlington to Newark. And he sat across from me again in the shuttle bus from Terminal A to Terminal C in Newark. So I leaned across the aisle in the shuttle and got his attention, saying, “Hey, wanna see a video?” And I played this video for him on my phone. He recognized me from the plane and said something like, “Nothing like it, right?”

From Newark, then, we boarded the connecting flight to West Palm Beach, or, as we like to call it, “home.” In the middle of that flight I look across the aisle from me and here’s this same guy (this time he’s across the aisle from me on the right; and this is impossibly more detail than I thought I’d be sharing right now).

In a few hours, thank God, we land safely in West Palm. The lights come up in the cabin and people begin to stand up. The guy and I see each other. And I say, “Is this home for you?” He nods and says, “Nothing like it, right?”

The featured image is from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

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