Single serving friends

After my last travel adventure, I decided to reframe my perspective on seatmates and keep an open mind about whoever might occupy the middle and aisle positions next to me. With this thought on non-judgmentalness, I boarded my flight bound for Cactus Land on Monday.

As a member of the A group (yes, I checked in via Blackberry precisely 24 hours before my flight), I sat near the front of the plane and dug out some homework to read. That was all for naught because my seatmate’s banter captured my attention and made the flight pass by with lightening speed. As it happens, my flying companion for the evening was a real live gold miner, heretofore called “Spur” (thanks Bethany!).

Spur was a complete character! A business man by day (he owns paintball complexes here in Phoenix) and a gold-mining, adventure traveler by night, he regaled me with stories of his travel. (Day and night was probably the wrong analogy, but you get the idea.) With his business running itself practically, he spends the summer months gold mining in Northern California (he showed me two ounces of gold chips!!) and periodically disappears for months at a time to explore the developing world. He’s crossed the Sahara by camel, cage-dived with sharks, base jumped in South America and scaled more mountains than I can name. Also, and this doesn’t hurt, he looks like a cross between Gerard Butler of “300” fame and “Jake” from Sweet Home Alabama. (Lest you get the wrong idea, my thoughts went immediately to matchmaking and I gave Spur my world-traveling-photographer-friend Shannon’s business card.)

What I found interesting with my gold mining pal was his reference to “single serving friends” from the movie “Fight Club.” I don’t pretend to remember the scene but the gist (as he told me) was Ed Norton describing good airplane companions as single-serving friends, much like the one drink you’re served or the bag of nuts. You interact for the duration of flight and then you’re done. While I doubt I will see Spur again (until he becomes my best-friend-in-law, of course) or the medium-level rock star from my Seattle trip, it’s nice to contextualize the friendly interactions. We’re not just random strangers who have interesting though meaningless conversations on planes. We’re single-serving friends whose time just happens to run out when the wheels hit the tarmac. While it sounds sad in a way, I appreciate being able to meet new people, have a stimulating conversation and thanks to the transient nature of the interaction, not have to worry about strings attached.

Okay, enough rambling. Stay tuned for a post tomorrow about the Reno Air Races!


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