It was some Sunday night and I was flying back from Philadelphia where
I'd been helping my old boss get his PeopleSoft web components functioning
properly. I'd been there for the weekend and I was tired, cranky, and
desperately nervous about flying.
My trip had been generally shitty. They'd given me a bad hotel
room, put me to work in a stale office on a random computer in a random cubicle.
It was the type off place that smelled like an old car garage - I always
expected to see some grease monkey walking out of the bathroom while wiping his
hands on an oily towel.
Up to this point I'd been wandering the Philadelphia airport for six hours.
My flight kept getting delayed and delayed and delayed... I wanted to be home in
Wandering the airport in Philly is about as interesting as spending time in a
mall dedicated to Gap and Bath and Body Works. There's never anything that
smacks of substance at all. I don't like buying things in airports because it
always makes me feel as if I am cheating in the "travel gift department": "I'm
sorry, I didn't think enough to actually GO somewhere to buy something, so Hey!
I'll get you this piece of overpriced crap from a newsstand!"
More time spent wandering and dreading the flight, storm after storm, hour
after hour. I think I probably would have settled with staying at another shitty
hotel just to avoid waiting any more... but I stayed.
The plane finally rolled in around 9:00 and we were allowed to board the
plane around 9:30. The storms kept coming and I was almost certain that they would eventually cancel it - I actually kind of hoped
they would because I didn't relish the idea of flying
through a storm in some fingernail sized jet. To board it, we had to go outside
in the rain. I was fortunate enough to be at the front of the line so I was dry
at the start. . As much as I hate to fly, I hate
not seeing where we are worse, so I picked a window seat
Outside, the other passengers stood in line in the storm. I stared out the
window to watch them board in the rain and noticed a young, cute guy near the
end of the line who eventually came and sat down next to me. Don't get me wrong,
I wasn't scoping him out or anything, I just noticed him. He seemed
polite but preoccupied with some problem. He began talking on his cell phone
as soon as he sat down.
We sat in the plane (at the gate) for the next hour or so without moving...
my friend beside me chatted on the phone the entire time. It wasn't the
annoying chatter that I couldn't stand - he at least had the courtesy to
lower his voice as to not disturb anyone too much. Around 10:30 they started to
pull out and he put away the phone.
As we were getting departing the gate, the Flight Attendant was giving her
"seatbelts, trays and upright position" speech. I glanced down to see the
flight card showing the plane's exits and what
to do in case of loss of cabin pressure. I pulled it
forward with my fingers to get a better look... I instantly thought of the
flight cards in the movie Fight Club and started smirking.
The guy beside me leaned towards me: "You ever see the movie, Fight Club?"
I pulled the card out and pointed to it : "Calm as Hindu cows"...
We both got a good laugh out of this and bantered quotes from the movie back
and forth. He introduced himself as "Elliot" and I gave him my name. We chatted about movies and the miserable night of flying. He
mentioned that he was flying to Columbus, then off to Canton where he had to
deal with some software issue. I told him I was on my way home.
We taxied out to the runway and waited behind, at least, 30 planes... it took
another hour before we were in the air.
Further conversation revealed that he also held an IT job. He asked me what I
did and I told him I was a PeopleSoft developer.
"Oh, really," he said. "My company uses PeopleSoft."
"Yea?" I was intrigued. More by the color of his eyes than any actual
software interest, but hey, I could at least attempt a conversation. "I was here
to help a friend of mine get a web product working. They're selling to
someone... In Site or something..."
"In Site." he nodded... this wasn't a question...
I continued. "Yea... I-N - S-I-T-" I started to spell thinking he might have
"I know what it is." he said. "Who were you here for?" he asked...
"ISA" I said.
He laughed hard... "I work for ISA," he said. "and I deal with In Site." He
paused. "Who's your friend?"
I told him.
"That's my boss." he said.
We started to laugh VERY hard at this and it opened up a huge conversation -
the most pointed moment was when we discovered that I had been working at HIS
fucking cubicle the entire weekend... I even remember the name "Elliot" from
the name plate.
He showed me his business card with the familiar ISA logo I'd seen all
"You've got the same briefcase as me..." I quoted and we
both laughed our asses off - but were a little unnerved by the number of
coincidences and similarities.
I started to wonder if this was what happened to you when you were about to die in a fiery plane crash... I started to feel
nervous. I expected the worst.
The flight was the quickest, easiest but stormiest I'd been on. We talked -
more like babbled- the entire flight... the people around us hated us and our
constant chatter... it was scary... we had too many
characteristics that were alike, too many common interests... I didn't even
bother to ask if he was into guys - moot point... I didn't want to know... there
were TOO MANY other things...that would have sealed some kind of bond and I
would have had try and stay friends with him.
The plane landed in Columbus and I kept debating on whether I should give him
my business card so that we could hang out if he
ever had time in Columbus - I didn't. I'm not sure if you're supposed to get to
know people like that. I think they're supposed to go in and out of your life as
fast as possible... can your ego deal with someone so like you? At the end I
shook his hand, thanked him for being the most interesting "single serving
friend" I'd ever met, and we said goodbye.
For a long moment we stared at each other. Somewhere in our heads we must
have been trying to find out which one of us was a figment of the other's
...neither of us came to a resolution - but we both wanted to be Tyler.