Conversations To Make You Fly High

, , , , | Hopeless | October 20, 2017

I’m a single woman, and I decided I wanted to travel, and do so alone. I’d been saving up money and vacation hours for several years for an international vacation. I chose to go to London. I decided to buy a wheeled duffel bag, with a separate trolley, to use as my carry-on. That decision prompted this situation.

I flew from my small city into a major city for the flight to Heathrow. Since I was coming in on a puddle jumper, I had quite a ways to get to the international gate. On the first escalator, I picked up my brand new wheeled duffel, and the handle broke. I managed to get to my gate without it breaking more severely, but it was very difficult.

After I found my gate, I went into all the stores around me, asking if they had tape or glue or something to repair it. No one did, but one lady went to check their storage room and came back with a handful of rubber-bands that she gave to me. She also helped me determine that a screw had failed, and they happened to have little eyeglass screwdrivers, so I bought one, and some candy, in case she got commission. She’s the first awesome stranger in this story. If you’re reading this, thanks again.

I got back to my gate, and tried to MacGyver a repair. I remembered that I had packed a sandwich bag worth of craft supplies, including some teeny rolls of washi tape, which is decorative paper tape for crafting. Between that and the rubber bands, the handle was holding together, as long as you didn’t look at it too hard. And you wouldn’t want to look at it, because it was really ugly.

While I was fixing it, my bag was in front of me, but I was trying to keep out of the way of traffic. At one point, someone came by, and I said, “Excuse me, sorry,” and nudged the bag a little out of the way. Then he said, “How are you doing?” and since I’m honest and a bit strange I said, “Okay-ish.” I didn’t think much of it, and the man passed me.

I finished fixing the bag, and was sitting there upset at that stupid bag. I even wrote a review for the bag. I was in a rotten mood.

After five or ten minutes, a man came by and asked, “Why did you say, ‘okay-ish’?”

I realized he was the man who passed me, so I explained about the brand new handle breaking, and my efforts to repair it. He commiserated with me and said I needed my money back. He then asked about my plans, and I said I was going to London for a vacation. I told him that it was my first time, but I had always wanted to visit the UK, specifically England. He was from London, but lived in the States, and was on his way home for a little while and then going on to Europe.  

Then, and this is why he stuck in my memory, he asked, “Do you have paper and a pen?” I brought out my travel planner, and he proceeded to give me notes of all the must-dos from a Londoner point of view, including an open-air market because, “You’d like it; it’s quirky like you.” And the must-eats, including good restaurants. I took loads of notes, and I still have them. We must have spoken more than 15 minutes. He was awesome. When he went back to his seat, I was in a much better mood.

Stranger in the airport, if you read this: you’ll never know how much that simple conversation helped me.

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