I don’t even know your name.

Airports are cool, and I have seen quite a few of them this past year. Getting on a full airplane to a faraway place makes me wonder what the other people are up to that are on the same plane as I am. What are their plans? Are they going on vacation? Are they going somewhere for work? Are they going to visit family? Sometimes I get to talk to people at airports or on airplanes and ask them what they are doing and where they are going and it is always so interesting to hear their stories.

I was charging my phone in the middle of the atrium at the Atlanta airport like a sitting duck with people walking all around me since there were no outlets by any of the chairs and a man approaches me with a smile and asks if he can join me. Of course I say yes and welcome the company so I look a little less odd sitting all by myself in the middle of the floor. We started talking about how it was ridiculous that there were no chargers closer to chairs but how we didn’t care if we looked weird to other people. He told me he was from New York and was meeting a friend in Atlanta to support her during the funeral of her family member. He told me about how he used to live in Africa and about some of the other places he has visited and I told him about my journey of the past year and about the time I spent in Africa and what I was up to now. He told me about his job as a chiropractor and I told him what I went to school for. We talked for about 15 minutes until his ride came, then we shook hands and that was the end of it. I realized after he was gone that I knew a lot of things about him but I didn’t know his name.

On the 13 hour flight from Atlanta to Tokyo on my way to Thailand I was sitting next to another man and we started talking about what brought us on this long plane ride and where our final destinations were. I learned that he was going to a Navy base to teach on safety and team work. He travels long distances to teach about once a month and he also teaches in the states when he isn’t traveling. His wife is from Jamaica and he told me how people drive crazy there and I told him about my experiences being terrified while being driven around in Africa. I told him about the trip I was going on to Thailand and we talked about how my team and I can stay safe and he was happy to hear that we had registered our trip with the U.S. embassy. Eventually we started watching movies and dozed off but before we went our separate ways when our plane landed we shook hands and wished each other well. I realized after he was gone that I knew a lot of things about him but I didn’t know his name.

It is amazing how much you can learn about someone in a short amount of time, you can go from complete strangers to people who know quite a bit about one another in 15 minutes if you’re willing to say hello and ask where their headed. I don’t think it mattered that I didn’t know the names of the people I spent time talking to, I was genuinely interested to hear their stories and they were interested in mine. Everyone has a story, and most people are willing to share theirs, they just need to be asked.

So ask away- and if you think of it you can even ask their name.

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