“I’m a firefighter, if that makes you feel any better.” boasts the man sitting next to me, in response to my reluctant admission to being what they call a ‘nervous flyer’. Joe from Jersey, the firefighter, spends the next seven hours alternating between assuring me that he ‘never flies economy class’ (I’m sorry sir, but according to your seat assignment, you do in fact fly economy class just like the rest of us peasants), and snoring loudly. I made the mistake of telling him I spoke no German, to which he gleefully delegated himself the task of teaching me everything he knew. Nein, danke.
I learned a lot more about Joe during that flight than I ever wanted to know, and quickly realized with a sinking heart that overnight flight meant I could not pointedly look out the window the entire time, too engrossed in nature’s beauty to listen to stories about his Slovakian girlfriend he was going to visit. As the maraschino cherry on top of the double-fudge milkshake brownie sundae, Joe gave me a parting gift as we exited the plane. It was a pocket sized cartoon pamphlet entitled ‘Where Will You Spend Eternity?”