Last week I was on 8 different airplanes. Not at one time of course. On 7 of those 8 planes, I didn’t talk to my seatmate. But on my flight Wednesday evening from Detroit to Columbus I had a great conversation with a fun and friendly woman traveling from Greensboro, North Carolina. When she asked me where I was coming from I said Milwaukee. She replied that she was a traveling nurse and that she had recently traveled to nurse people in Milwaukee at Ascension St. Mary’s Hospital
I told the woman that one of my great friends was an emergency room doctor there named Dr. Michael Brin. She said, “Oh, yes, I definitely know his name.” She probably found it on a list of the smartest, funniest, and sexiest E.R. doctors in Milwaukee named Michael Brin. Because he would totally dominate that list.
After establishing that she lived in Worthington, Ohio (Which is Columbus for those of you not down with the 614) she asked me what I did for work. But as soon as I opened my mouth to answer, the flight attendant cockpit-blocked me by jumping on the mic to make her unnecessarily loud announcements.
So I waited a moment. And during a break in the announcements, I tried to respond to the question. But the flight attendant came right back with more announcements.
This pattern repeated comically for quite some time. It reminded me of that scene from Austin Powers when he goes to the bathroom for the first time after being frozen for 30 years. And he keeps interrupting the voice declaring ‘Evacuation Complete’ with more tinkle noise.
After awkwardly trying to share what I do for work for about 2 minutes with no success, I noticed the copy of my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? that I had tucked into the seatback pouch in front of me. I reached down, slid the book out of the pocket, opened it to the author bio page on the inside back cover and handed it to my seatmate. I said, ‘Read this.’
My seatmate questioned, ‘Is this your book?’ I nodded ‘yes’. Then she proceeded to read the efficiently crafted story of me on the About the Author page.
I quickly recognized that having my book bio handy was the most efficient and effective way to introduce myself to a seatmate. In fact, we should all write an airplane bio, and have it added to the airline’s app. It should be accessible to the people sitting adjacent to us on our flights so that we can know who we are sitting near, what we may have in common, and whether they are on the sex offender list.
My seatmate asked if she could read the reviews on the cover. Which of course I encouraged her to do. I said, ‘Read anything you want. In fact, flip to the table of contents, find a chapter title that interests you, and read that. It was a fun experiment for me to see what someone who stumbles upon my book may find interesting.
The first chapter she picked out was ‘Fill your attitude with helium.’ Which is a great chapter. Within 10 seconds of flipping to that page, she laughed out loud. I asked what made her laugh. It was the reference to all the painstaking research I had done to discover that life is hard. She LOLed several times during that chapter. Each time I asked what made her laugh. It was fun primary research for an author on what kind of humor works in a book.
The next chapter she explored was very important. Chapter 63, Everything changes when you exchange names. This chapter is about how we transform from strangers into friends when we exchange names. Which was odd, because we hadn’t yet exchanged names. But during the reading of this chapter, she stopped reading, and she told me her name. Suddenly, she was no longer my seatmate. She was my new friend, Leslie, from Worthington, Ohio.
Leslie and I spoke the rest of the flight. We talked about our shared experiences. Our travels and our spouses. We took a selfie, just in case I would need it for a blog post. Which of course I do.
After we deplaned like Tattoo from Fantasy Island we walked through the CMH terminal together and decided to take another selfie by a Columbus sign. She then shared, that she would like to buy a copy of the book, and asked if Amazon is the best way to do it. I said that was a good way (and for most people around the world Amazon is the best way to buy my book.
I then said, ‘But, if you are interested, I have a couple extra copies with me, and I have a QR code that you could scan to pay instantly.’ She said, ‘Yes! Let’s do that!’
I handed her a new copy of my book. She scanned the QR code, which popped open a simple payment field. Then Leslie asked if it would be awkward to ask me to sign the book for her. I said, ‘That’s not awkward. Everybody asks that. It’s like signing a high school yearbook.’
So I pulled out my trusty non-smeary-smudgy Sharpie pen. Because I always carry one now for such occasions. I grabbed a nearby seat and signed my new friend Leslie’s book. After I handed her the book, we hugged. Then she headed to the baggage claim and I headed to the rental car shuttle.
As I sat on the shuttle bus, waiting to leave the terminal I was thinking about what a fun experience that was on a random Wednesday night flight to Columbus. Then I got an alert on my phone telling me that Quickbooks received payment for a book. Imediately after that, I heard a voice say, ‘Hey stranger!’ It was Leslie and her baggage claim bag. She once again sat next to me. This time it was by choice because we were friends. I took another pic to chronicle this chapter of the story.
Apparently, the universe had us well magnetized that day. Because we ended up walking to the same rental car counter too. (I rent from Hertz, because of OJ). But soon, we were in our rental cars and separated for the first time since Detroit. And I was thankful for the whole experience.
The greatest thing about writing a book is the new people I have met as a result. From the people at Ripples Media to the people that I meet at book talks, signing events, or on planes. It is the people who reach out to me because they have read the book, or got it as a gift and plan to read it. Writing a blog a book or a good social post can help introduce you to more people around the world. And at the end of our days, the only thing that will matter is the impact we had on each other. So put more good into the world, and more good will come back to you. And much of that good is likely to be good people. People like my new friend Leslie. From Worthington.
*If you know someone who would benefit from this message, please share it with them.
+If you would like to check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? for yourself you can find it at FortuneCookieBook.com.