I had forgotten how good the South African Airways hospitality was until my flight this evening. Apparently the whole plane was ordering gin and tonic, so sadly I didn’t get my miniature Tanquerey to celebrate the start of my journey. Instead I ordered a beer, and the kind steward returned to me shortly after with a miniature bottle of Bell’s whiskey, a nice touch, I thought.
One thing I had not prepared myself for or paid much thought to as a solo flier, was who I’d be sat next to on the plane. As I took my seat I began to eye up the potentials for seat 58K. Would it be the sweet-looking elderly lady by herself? Or perhaps the young girl around my age, who ended up just in front of me? Actually I was paired with a very friendly and chatty man called Robert, who I gather is from Zimbabwe, and now living in Woking.
We spoke about our travel plans and found that each of us was a fan of traveling and experiencing different cultures. I expressed my love for South Africa, and he recommended me some of the highlights of the lower half of the continent. I also found out that he is a big fan of Nando’s, which provided much conversation indeed!
Our conversation soon turned to politics and Brexit, in particular, and it’s certainly very encouraging to encounter a total stranger that has similar views on society to those of your own. I almost brought up the subject of Trump but I thought I may not get any sleep on my 11 hour flight if I did!
This warm and polite encounter with a total stranger made me feel really good about the rest of my journey. It reminded me that there are a whole bunch of good people in this world and all it takes is the simple art of conversation to get to know some of them.
Thank you Robert for being my plane buddy, and for being the first person on my trip to inspire me to write.