This Seat’s Taken

April 2, 2010

This is Post is not an homage to Forrest Gump, but there is a component that I find very similar to the experience that I had recently. Over the last few days I’ve had the opportunity to travel via airline to Raleigh-Durham and of course back to Philadelphia. The trip and the reason I was in North Carolina , The Snyder wedding, were perfect. What interested me were the conversations or lack of conversations that took place on the plane.

The first story relates to a woman who plays the part of Jenny. Her name was Lori. She was an attractive young Asian woman who was on her way to Durham to see her boyfriend. What I found interesting was that here I am a complete stranger and this woman had no shame in telling me various secrets about he life, her relationship and her family history. This conversation made me think about why someone would feel so open to discuss these intimate points, is it because I’m a stranger and therefore, I can be a sounding board for her thoughts and feelings without fear of retribution. I enjoyed our conversation during the flight, but was simply mystified by our mid-flight banter. Our conversation was so intense that eventually it included our whole row discussing Pennsylvania versus North Carolina.

What made my trip interesting was that I had the opposite experience on the flight home. I sat next to another woman on the flight back to Philadelphia who barely awknowledged my existence, as well as the fact that she put the arm-rest down between us, when there was no contact between us and she didn’t use it.

This is fascinating for me because I know my physical characteristics haven’t changed so if it’s approachability I should look relatively the same. I would assume then that if one person saw me as open that others would too, but I had polar opposite experiences. I wonder what the difference was?

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