For me, this weekend was all about decadence, the pursuit and expression of it, the sudden decision to go to San Francisco to see a friend on her birthday. For the most of the weekend, it was three of us, old Austin friends, gathered to hang out, spend time, enjoy life, eat some amazing food, check out weird stuff, just exist in the moment. I’m super glad it happened.
The process of travel was the furthest from decadent. This trip, I had more than my fair share of hassle and struggle just to get into the air. Austin traffic going out, San Francisco TSA coming back. Each time, I’m super glad that I front-loaded extra time and cut short some of my side plans just to get to the gates.
Once in the air, that’s the easiest part.
Except each leg of the trip, there was a lady to my left who needed help. The first had struggles dealing with her cellphone while trying to figure out how to view the in-flight movies. After watching her struggle and try to flag down a flight steward, I pulled off my earbuds and made friends. We got her going in short time. Her flight experience improved because I got over myself and offered help.
But on the flight back, the woman sitting to my left was antsy, anxious, stressed out and didn’t appear to be in an OK state in the air. Never still, occasionally putting hands over her face, pacing the aisle. Visibly not fine. About halfway through the 3.5 hour flight, I decided that she needed a bit of warmth and humanity, someone to distract her, give her some space to not think about the flight and whatever was troubling her. I opened by showing her the location of our plane on the flight status map on my cellphone. We were slightly more than halfway there. That opened up a flood of conversation. She unloaded a good bit of chatter at full speed, and I could tell she needed it.
We talked about life, about her technical writing career, family, hometowns, Texas barbecue, and we discovered at least a mutual acquaintance.
Sure, it’s mostly a disposable conversation, but she looked like she needed a friend at that moment. My lesson is that I can’t just tune out the world and focus on my own struggles; others need help too.