I took an empty aisle seat by an older gentleman on the train, hoping to eat my salad along the route.
When I apologized in advance for the smell or mess I might make, he told me not to worry at all.
Before I knew it, we were in a non-stop conversation (even while I ate), as he began to tell me his reasons for wanting to move from Florida to Seattle, and how he was simply riding the light rail from beginning to end that day in order to familiarize himself with the city transportation.
I hope to someday get to that level of nonchalance in life, without regard for time.
The conversation moved on to politics, our current deteriorated society, and morality, or lack of it, in the world today.
He gave away hints that his career had been top-secret, so important and at times dangerous that even his own two daughters to this day are unaware of every detail. He spoke of them a lot, too, like any proud father would. There didn't seem to be much he wasn't interested in, or hadn't tried his hand at learning. He was full of interesting facts, fluent in over seven languages, and had seen so much of the world. He, himself, was a history book, and I mean that in no disrespect.
My favorite story he told was of when he and his family were in different countries (career-required) and with his pocket knife he and his girls would hand out slices of apples to street musicians and other homeless folks.
"Everyone loves free food," he chuckled, "and everyone has a story to tell, too."
Now, when his grandchildren and other young kids visit him, they know to expect apple slices, or other homemade treasures, because he knows he'll be remembered for the quality of time he's spent with them, and the stories he has to tell, rather than the money or the presents he could give.
People will always value the way you make them feel, even after years have passed, or you have, we both said.
I was almost devastated when the train came to my stop at the airport. We were still in mid-sentence, and I only had a few moments to slip out the doors.
"This is my stop, I'm so sorry!" I said, offering a handshake and gathering my empty salad container.
"Hey, you've been just a real joy to talk to! Take care, and I hope the best for you," he replied with the most sincere tone and happy blue eyes.
I stepped off the train and it hit me: I never caught his name. All I know is he's 74 and still an idealist; he never lost his zeal for life or his passion for learning and creating connections, and that's exactly how I want to be at his age.
Needless to say, it was one of the most quality-packed, 30 minute conversations I've ever had, and I'll never forget it.
I arrived at the terminal at the right time for an international flight, just under 2 hours before takeoff.
Or so I thought.
While printing off my boarding pass I had to do several double-takes. There was a 4 hour delay. I repeat, 4 HOUR DELAY
Not really knowing if I was reading it correctly, and also not knowing what else to do, I got my bag and headed through security to see if someone at the gate would have an explanation.
But there was no one at the gate, except other frantic and confused passengers.
Now, before you scribble out Iceland Air from any possible future travel options, let me explain.
Eventually, someone became available and informed all of us that the pilot and crew had been heavily delayed the night before due to weather, and due to regulations had to be on ground for a specific amount of hours, thus extending their next flight departure, aka mine.
So, it wasn't their fault. The airline did what they could to make up for it with a free meal of sandwiches, chips, and drinks delivered to our gate.
Yes, it was a bit stressful, but my situation could have been worse. Thankfully, unlike other people, I wasn't going to miss any connecting flights. I was a little concerned about my reservations for the following day when I arrived, but besides sending a couple emails, there wasn't much I could do until I landed.
I do wish I would have known sooner, so I could have spent more time exploring and talking to randomly wonderful people.
In the long run, though, it was a fun experience. I continued to have more fascinating conversations with fascinating individuals, mostly at the phone charging station.
There was a Danish guy, Henry, not much older than me who had been to over 40 countries as he steadily earned his neurosurgeon degree and frequently took breaks to enjoy life (queue the jealousy). Then a young girl, also close to my age, joined us and turned the conversation over to politics--she was nice, but I secretly disliked the discussion from that point. There was the lady from Alaska planning to meet her mom in England for a 3 week trek; her boys were also avid travelers and hardcore hostel hanging kind of kids. There was the recognizably well-off middle-aged couple who happily shared their travel experiences and gave me hints on the places I need to go and participate in.
In short, our 8:30 PM boarding time came pretty fast, all things considered.
Nothing, not even a 4 hour delay, could hinder my excitement for what I knew awaited me the following day.
Besides, since so many people had to find different flights to meet their connections, the plane was pretty light, and I ended up with a row all to myself.