A Move That's Definitely Not In The Team Playbook
A colleague and I were boarding a plane home to New York at the end of a business trip. As we stepped aboard, the flight attendant greeted us and asked if we "played football or something." This isn't an unusual occurrence for me, because I'm 6'6" and about 235 pounds. My colleague is tall, too, and outweighs me by 10 pounds. I was getting ready to answer, when my colleague, Alonzo, said, "Yes, we play for the Jets." I glared at him, but it was too late to come clean.
Not two minutes after we took our seats, the attendant approached us and said they would have liked to move us up to first class, but that all of the seats were full. She then made the following announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, we have two members of the New York Jets with us today who have managed to get some tight seats. Would anyone sitting in the exit rows be willing to change with them?" I was mortified. I just knew some die-hard Jets fan was on the plane and would call us out as phonies. To my surprise, two women sitting together in the exit row gave us their seats.
After takeoff, Alonzo and I discussed how crazy it was that people would actually believe we were football players. We had, after all, boarded the flight wearing business suits and carrying briefcases, with coach tickets, in the middle of August. And anyone who knows football knows that the pros are in training camp in August.
Not long after the seat-belt sign was turned off, I noticed a little boy walking down the aisle with a pen and paper in his hand. "Excuse me, sir, can I have your autograph?" he asked. Uh-oh. I couldn't say no, but wondered if I should sign the name of a player from the Jets or make up a name. I took the paper and signed my name and high-school football number. Now it was time to get Alonzo back. I said to the kid, "Do you want his, too?" The boy nodded. Before the flight was over, six other people asked for our autographs.
To this day, Alonzo and I look back at that and laugh. I've told him, though, that I'll never travel with him again. Unless, of course, he can guarantee me that seat in first class.
- Y. Christopher Michel,
New York City
A Truly Grand Adventure
When I left school, I spent a couple of years as a tour guide. Old habits die hard, I guess, because I still find myself offering the occasional travel advice. On one such trip, I was seated next to a blind couple. They were extremely self-sufficient and delighted in vacationing throughout the U.S. By sheer coincidence, we discovered we were staying at the same hotel in the Grand Canyon, and I described to them the wonders of taking a sunrise, light-aircraft flight through the canyon. They decided to take the tour, but only if I flew with them and described the canyon. I agreed, but wondered how I could do justice to such a sight.
The morning of the trip, the sky was bright and clear. We took off, swooping down among the gorgeous ancient rocks, and I began my description. An hour later, we landed, and I asked them nervously, "How was it?" "Beautiful!" they exclaimed. "How do you know when you don't know colors or shapes?" I asked curiously. The wife answered, "We could hear how beautiful it was by the resonance and tone of your voice." Their attitude and enthusiasm for life taught me a lesson I still remember to this day.
- Lynne Pritchard, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Two young boys, about eight and 10, were seated next to me, while their parents were seated several rows back. As we boarded, the parents had given the boys a big brown bag of food to eat. I didn't think much of it until the boys began chomping down on … a bunch of chili dogs! Fries and ketchup and a mess everywhere! Then the oldest boy says to me, "Mister, are you going to use that white bag in the seat pocket in front of you? I always get sick on takeoff and may need more than one bag." Now I'm freaked, thinking about those three chili dogs he just ate. I asked the flight attendant if I co uld move, but it was a full flight. Passengers in the aisle across from me were even wishing me luck. Then the youngest boy tells me he sometimes gets sick, too, and the boys raised their bags into position as we began to taxi away from the gate. As we lifted off, both boys, with bags to their mouths, gagged a few times, and then suddenly began to laugh out loud. They said they don't really get sick on airplanes, that they were just having some fun with me!
- David Carbary,