...I did my best to squeeze through the mass of corporate refugees who packed the plane’s cabin without hurting anyone. We were all transplants for one reason or another. My earlier flight was cancelled due to a mechanical failure, so I was just as eager to find my new seat and finally be off to my meeting in Seattle. But I couldn’t help but to cringe as I checked my ticket: 11B.
The “B”usually meant I would be jammed between two men of equal or greater mass who would ferociously compete for elbow space over the next two hours. To my relief, a rather stylish and slim older woman smiled to me as she got up from her aisle seat to let me in. I mention this detail because a younger lady behind us made a point to compliment her on her leather boots and grey 70’s circa dress.
I settled in and found the man at the window on my left already passed out. The stylish woman on my right anxiously flipped through her magazine. “You must be a fast reader,” I joked.
“Nothing is really grabbing me,” she answered, frowning at the headlines of each page.
This led to a discussion of her reading preferences and habits, when I was interrupted by a text from a friend. “Can’t make the meeting,” it warned. “My father has passed away.” My heart sank as the plane finally pushed off. My friend was incredibly close to his father and I knew this would be devastating for him.
After the climb to 30,000 feet and a chance to reflect, I noticed the stylish woman continued to flip pages.
“Do you like Sci Fi?” I asked her.
“Yes,” she answered, and went on to describe a Japanese author she enjoyed that wrote “mind magic” stories where the most fantastic things could happen. I smiled.
I casually reached into my bag and pulled out a copy of my book, The God Thought. “I was going to give this to a friend of mine, but his father just died and his plans had to change. You’re welcome to have it if you think you’ll find it interesting.”
The woman accepted the book and immediately flipped it to the back to scan the synopsis. Now - this was a very surreal moment for me. I was watching someone who had no idea who I was, who had no idea what the book was about, have an honest reaction to it. Had I revealed I was the author, her reaction would undoubtedly have been tainted with politeness.
After a minute, she turned to me. “Are you sure? You brought it for your friend.”
“Oh, I have another copy I can give him.”
The woman thanked me and stowed it in her bag for later. We chatted for the rest of the flight.
It occurred to me as we spoke that I would never know what this woman actually thought of my book after she read it. I did not know her name. She did not know mine. There was no way to contact her without revealing who I was, which I felt would influence her experience in reading it.
I wouldn’t get an honest opinion.
And then I thought of another way. Perhaps if I posted this story about the stylish older woman who sat in 11C on a mid morning Alaska flight to Seattle on May 6th, 2015 - perhaps she might hear of it, and contact me with her thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org
Only time will tell. And whether I hear from her or not, I felt this was a story worth sharing.