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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> My Bad... Plane trip
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01/09/2016 08:29:55 PM · #1
So... I was having a bad day this week. I'd had had a few of them before that one. I'd been on the verge of tears in my pity party ever since the day began and I was travelling alone.

Finally, I was allowed to board my plane.

I struggled down the narrow plane aisle... pushing and hauling my luggage before me and on me.

I found my seat, shoved it onto my seat, said a tired "hi" to the young guy in the seat next to mine. He replied with a much more cheerful "hello!".

I waited until the line down the aisle cleared, then stowed my carry-ons in the over head bins and thankfully sank down... finally... into my seat... So ready to relax.

The young guy... tattoos in every place I could see... long hair streaming out of his skullcap said, "I have a cat in the crate below me... just so you know..."

I said falsely happily, "Oh GREAT! I'm allergic to cats. That will top off my week just perfectly." And laughed a little.

It's not like me to be snarky to strangers... and I really did try to make it lighthearted, but I'd had a really bad past few days. Bad enough to buy a one-way ticket home at the high "day of" prices.

He smiled at me and said, "She's just been cleaned. I don't think she'll affect you."

I settled in, not looking at him and assured him, "I'm sure she won't be a problem at all."

I pushed my shoes off and cradled my purse between my feet in under the seat in front of me... ready to relax.

He continued, though... "She's not actually mine. She was my dad's. He passed away a couple of days ago."

My head snapped up.

My eyes locked on his. I was immediately ashamed and compassionate. Genuinely so.

He looked up above us... at the luggage bins in the air and said, "He's up there along, too."

"Oh. I'm so sorry to hear that. How are you doing?"

We continued to talk. He is smart, compassionate (he checked the floor once to see if it was cold where the cat sat in her crate), and seemed interested in talking. I hate to talk to people on planes. I always take a book.

He was not intrusive. I offered to move to the empty seat across the aisle after take-off so he could have more foot room with the cat's crate taking up all of his (selfishly hoping he'd jump at the chance to get rid of me). He said that it was fine... she hadn't made a peep and didn't want to move in case it disturbed her.

Dang. There went my "escape". *sigh*

I tell you... I am NOT a kind person when I think I've had a bad day. (You peeps should have given me a ribbon. Ha!)

"What kind of cat is she?"

"Kind of a tortoiseshell calico" (I told you he's smart. What kind of twenty-something male answers that way?)

Hoping to distract him, I asked how much it cost to take a cat in a crate on Delta. He replied, "One hundred twenty-five dollars".

"Did you say ONE HUNDRED twenty-five dollars... or twenty-five dollars?" (the price of a piece of checked luggage on Delta)
The cat was under the seat in front of him, was taking up no more room than my purse was for other passengers.

"One hundred twenty-five dollars. A human infant travels for free." *wry smile came on him* (there was one of those crying loudly already two rows behind us)

"Arg. That stinks!"

"Yeah... well... the surfboard cost more than that. $150 to fly with me."

"You have a surfboard TOO?!"
(thinking WOW! What a weird discussion... a heavily-tattooed guy with a live cat, a dead dad, and a surfboard on board. How much more weird can this day get?!)

He said yeah... it was his cousin's... who'd tragically died very young recently and his dad had been storing the board for their relatives who'd not yet been able to pick it up.

Gee!
Wow!

What a story.

We were silent for a while and he said, "It was amazing how the security didn't question me much when I was travelling with a cat in a crate, an urn of ashes, and a surfboard." We chuckled a bit... and I said, "I guess that would be the perfect plan for a high-jacker then... unless they x-rayed the urn." He said that the people at the funeral home had warned him not to get a metal urn if he was flying... so he'd gotten a wooden one. They had x-rayed it... made him take the cat out (she was amazing, he said) and let him go.

How many young men have to worry about what medium to put ashes into to travel with a couple of days after their dad's body has died? *sigh*

I said that I was thankful that the cat had not run away. He said that one had... just a bit before him.

Then I asked, "What will you do with your dad's ashes?" all the while wondering how much a twenty-something guy should be allowed to handle on his own...
He said his younger sister (by seven years) had already been planning a visit to see him two weeks from now... so that would be the perfect time for the two of them to spread his ashes.

I agreed and said that it's good that he and his sister seem to be close since she was flying out to see him. He replied that they hadn't always been... that he made it a point to engage her (remember what he looks like... tattoos everywhere I could see, cat, long hair trailing)... since she was still a very young child when he left home.

My innerds kept convicting me about how awful I was to be thinking I'd had a bad week. *heavy sigh* And I pride myself on being kind to everyone. Scumbag, I am. *sigh again*

We talked a bit about grief... his dad had only been 58. I'm 54. I told him of the road ahead and... (thankful for once to have experienced grief very deeply a couple of times)... I told him of how grief is different for all... not to worry if it lasts longer or shorter than he thought it should/would... and stuff like that... how to find help. He looked me in the eyes every time I spoke to him. His manners were impeccable.

When the snacks came... I saw that he tore into his tiny pack of pretzels very quickly. Before he finished them, I asked if he'd like mine... "I've just eaten..." He thanked me and ate them very quickly too.

He stared out the window for a while and we were silent.

After we landed and I'd stood up to get my luggage I touched him as he checked on the cat and said, "Would you please allow me to buy your dinner..."

He balked for half a second. I put the 20 into his hand and continued...

"... not because you need the money, but because it will make me feel a bit better to think that you'll have a tiny bit of lessening of your grief."

He relented and I think I saw relief on his face.

He pulled out his hand (from off of the cat's crate) and held it out to shake mine, saying... "Thank you." as he firmly met my gaze.

I am blessed.

So very blessed to have been "stuck" next to the weird guy that had a cat that would make me sneeze and not breathe.

Thank you, God, for teaching me again... We all are hurting. We are all very loved by you.

Be kind to everyone you meet, even when you're hurting. You never know if you're meeting a young kid who is hauling around his father's cat, his father's body, and his tragically deceased cousin's surfboard.

You just never know.

*sigh*
01/09/2016 08:51:57 PM · #2
Nice story Lydia! Hope you both felt better in the end.
01/09/2016 08:58:25 PM · #3
That's quite a story. I hope you are enjoying your destination.
01/09/2016 09:01:09 PM · #4
Oh Lydia, you have a gift. Even though we have never met in person, I feel I know you just by your writing. You are a very caring and compassionate person something I knew before you wrote this. Have you ever thought about writing? Thanks for the lift.
01/09/2016 09:01:47 PM · #5
That's an awesome story Lydia, I hope everything improves for both of you. You should write it up into a screenplay...would make an incredible movie....and from the sounds of it the young man could use a share of the royalties from the gazillions the movie would make.
01/09/2016 09:06:27 PM · #6
things happen to people!
01/09/2016 10:25:03 PM · #7
That is some story Lydia and you tell it so well... have you ever thought about becoming a writer. I'm serious really serious I think you write really well. I wish I could write half as good as that.

By the way I hope you're feeling better and all your woes have disappeared. When we really count our blessings we have so much to be thankful for truly!!

Edited to add I see Marianne already mentioned that you should be a writer also :-)

Message edited by author 2016-01-09 22:26:24.
01/09/2016 10:53:47 PM · #8
Hah! Based on the thread title, I kept waiting for the "something awful" or "something weird" to happen at the end. Of course it never did. Whatta tale! You're a sweetie...
01/09/2016 11:36:58 PM · #9
I opened this post. I saw a LONG story. Then I saw who wrote it.
That was the moment I hit the point of no return.... I can't resist Lydia stories.

Once again you didn't disappoint me with your enjoyable and thought provoking "tale".

Thanks for sharing.
01/10/2016 12:46:54 PM · #10
Well, here I sit, tears welling in my eyes, very moved. Lydia - you need to publish - you have a powerful writing talent. Thanks for sharing.
01/10/2016 01:02:17 PM · #11
That IS weird luggage....

:)
01/10/2016 01:52:11 PM · #12
Good story!
01/10/2016 01:58:33 PM · #13
Thanks for sharing. Where's the "like" button! :)
01/10/2016 07:21:51 PM · #14
Great story, Lydia. Thank you. The lesson is to be open to having our preconceptions overturned. The blessing for both of you was that you were.

Btw, did the cat affect you much? I am also allergic to cats. Some, particularly dark coated ones, I find, are more allergenic than others.
01/10/2016 08:01:54 PM · #15
Originally posted by jomari:

Some, particularly dark coated ones, I find, are more allergenic than others.

Oh, dear! I should change my avatar!

Additionally, yes, Lydia, grand story, well told. Thank you.

01/10/2016 08:47:11 PM · #16
Yep, those "long haired, tatooed folks" can certainly surprise the heck out of ya. Wonderful story Lydia - as others have said, I'd read your writing all day long :)
01/10/2016 08:59:20 PM · #17
I'm amazed they let you carry the cat on with you, they never let me keep my frog.. Anyways I liked the story too.
01/10/2016 09:44:36 PM · #18
There was an empty seat on the plane? How strange...

Great story. Thanks for sharing.
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