TAKE TIME TO SAY HELLO

Posted: March 16, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Being human we periodically make a major goof and then sit back and ask ourselves how did we make such a dumb mistake. Right after I finished my column last week I made this type of revelation. Fortunately as a person moves up in age it is acceptable to claim that a goof is really a senior moment and that is what I am using as my excuse. When I listed the mayors last week I left out Bill Mitchum. Even though I have received no calls on the subject I am sure that it caught the eye of many. Not only did I realize my error, it was also an omission of a friend of over half a century and no, I was not paying him back for the time that he slipped into my grandfather’s yard when visiting from Bernice and was caught snitching pears off his tree.
Many of us have been fortunate enough to have traveled for either work or relaxation. For the ones that are fortunate enough to cross an ocean or go non-stop across our great country the trip can be exciting, monotonous or down right dreary depending on how you look at it. When leaving Saudi Arabia I was filled with excitement as I thought about touching good ole American soil and sinking my teeth into a Big Mac. My first part of the journey usually began with a nap. I was usually asleep before the plane was off the ground and woke to find a vast ocean below and some stranger sitting next to me. Shorter flights from Dubai to Saudi Arabia provided no time to sleep but did allow an opportunity to make a new acquaintance.
It’s human nature to be cautious of strangers. This is an inherent characteristic that has been drilled into the mind since pre-mideval times when any stranger could lead to a quick trip to the hear after. Sit on a plane and observe two strangers sitting next to each other. It is very rare that either are conversing with each other. On the long trips when the movie ends it is seldom that a word is spoken. I am definitely the exception and it is rare that I meet a stranger. Surprisingly, when I strike up a conversation the stranger next to me is usually receptive and a genuine conversation takes place. I was fortunate enough to have met some very interesting people during these conversations.
Once while flying back to Arabia from the Mid-East softball championships from Dubai I sat next to a young couple. I started talking to a couple and during the conversation I found out that not only did they go to school at Ouachita but the lady was good friends with my best friend at NLU. Then on another trip from Dubai a man sat next to me and said he saw during the player introductions that I was from Farmerville. We talked and I found out that he was from Arcadia, graduated the same year I did and played quarterback.
“Do you remember being on the Farmerville two yard line and fumbling:, I asked.
“I sure do. Couldn’t forget that,” he replied.
I thrust out my hand, “I’m the man that recovered the fumble”.
The most interesting story I heard dealt with a little known fact about the murder of a very famous naturalist that made national news in a country half a world away. Diane Fossey had been in Rwanda Africa studing great apes. Her story was told in the movie Gorillas in the Mist with Sigourney Weaver playing Fossey. In 1985 she was murdered and the case has never been solved. Speculation existed that the murder was either performed by poachers that she had been fighting for years or government officials that she opposed for bringing tourists into the gorilla homelands. What was not realized was that her American assistant was also accused and was wanted in Rwanda for the murder. The man telling me the story was a good friend of the accused and said he would never return to Rwanda. The man also stated that his friend categorically denied having been involved. He felt he was being made the scapegoat and the real murderer was one of the poachers. The government was covering it up and blamed him.
Next time you travel take the opportunity to strike up a conversation. The worst thing that can happen is to receive a grunt and a magazine pulled up between you and the other passenger. The best thing that can happen is an interesting conversation and making a new acquaintance.

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