Even though the flying time from Shreveport, Louisiana to Atlanta, Georgia is a relatively short 90 minutes, the flight itself was turning out to be incorrigibly boring.
I was starting to believe that ‘time dilation’ concept physicists keep referring to.
The on-board magazine had absolutely nothing novel to offer, the coffee was a touch stronger than distilled water & the air conditioning was working as if it was desperately trying to freeze molten lava. I lost interest in the free peanuts & pretzels routinely offered on airplanes when I turned 10 years old. That was some time ago.
All of a sudden, the old man sitting in the seat beside mine began to cry. A few tears at first and then an audible, steady sob.
I did not know who he was or why he was upset. We had but smiled at each other as is usually the case as we had taken our seats when we boarded the aircraft. He seemed a pleasant enough sort as he had settled down quickly and had immediately put on his earphones to start an audio track on his phone.
Being able to mind one’s own business on an airplane should be classified as an art form and this elderly gentleman was bordering on savante in that regard. One is rarely blessed with co-passengers like this one.
I peeked into the aisle and signalled to the steward to bring me a glass of water. The lad quickly brought me a full bottle of drinking water with a beaming smile. He certainly knew what above & beyond meant.
I offered the old man the bottle of water and asked him if there was anything that I could do to help him. He wiped away his tears, sat up straight and said with a bit of a smile (in what I could only place as an accent from a Spanish speaking country), “Young man, I was listening to a Spanish audiobook and there was a part of the story in which a grandfather begs his grandson to take his advice to not go to the battle front where a painful death would be a certainty. The narrator’s words & voice sounded so much like my own grandfather when he & I had that exact same conversation some years ago that it it made me miss him so much. As it happens, I did make it back alive and well from the battle front but my grandfather died from a heart attack before I returned. This is an excellent story and it has been narrated so well.”
I shook hands with him and patted him gently on the shoulder as I said, “No hay problema Señor. Entiendo perfectamente.” He smiled and said, “Gracias.”
I was rather glad that he liked my audiobook so much but I chose not to tell him that then. It would have been far too vain; even by my standards.
Although it seems that I do need to work on the sound of my voice. Sounding like a grandfather at my age is simply not done…