A few years ago, I was at the departure lounge of the Marco Polo international airport in Venice; I was flying to Rome for a medical conference. My flight would take off at 6:30 am, so I left home at about 4.30 am. At the time I lived about 45 minutes from the airport. So, seeing that the gate closes at 6 am, leaving at 4:30 am wasn’t a bad idea. Yeah, it was a bit early, but you don’t want to miss your flight, right?
So, my flight was scheduled to leave at 6.30 am and we hope to be in Rome in about one hour. My conference starts at 9 am, but seeing I’ll be giving a presentation, it’s best I arrive at least 30 minutes before commencement, so we can sort any issues with the technical crew and I’ll also get mentally prepared for my presentation.
So, while I waited at the departure lounge, I met a young man in his thirties, and we began talking. Coincidentally, he was a law graduate with a Masters degree in International relations and economic policies, so, as you could imagine, we had a lot of things to talk about. Added to this was that he’s also a born again child of God, so, as my Nigerian friends would say, we had plenty things wey we fit talk about.
Beaming with smiles, we exchanged greetings and began a conversation that was quite enlightening. We talked about the succedendi in the world, from the coronavirus pandemic to its effects on the economy of the western nations; from climate change to African politics; from human rights to the election of Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as the new Director of the World Trade Organisation. Oh, I forgot to add that he has some important leadership experience too, working with many international organisations. So, I had tons of questions to ask him. I mean, it wasn’t an interview kind of conversation – it was symbiotic although I think he probably got less than I got from our brief chat. Well, he can always recuperate the next time we meet… if we meet. Yeah, we’ll meet… online.
But something happened during this interesting chinwag: while we talked, I received a notification that the gate was about to close. Oh, how time flies so quick during a delightsome skull session; it’s just like when a book is simply unputdownable but you have to close it because your tasty piadina is about to get messed up by the fire. So, the notification has come, and I needed to leave.
Inasmuch as we would have loved to continue this interesting conversation, we just had to stop, or if you’d prefer, as my barrister-bruvver would, adjourn. It was time to catch our flights, and everyone was going in a different direction. Well, we exchanged our contact details, promising to continue the conversation via Zoom, possibly with our team all coming together. I’m looking forward to it.
As I stood to leave, I noticed that a gorgeous lady sitting a few meters away, who hadn’t joined our somewhat animated colloquy, also stood up, picked her suitcase and moved in the same direction as myself. We didn’t exchange any greetings besides a placid smile – I guess that was already too much for my shy personality. I mean, shy not because I saw a beautiful lady (maybe) but because I’m generally shy, and I often feel awkward meeting strangers for the first time. All right, that’s too many details.
We both boarded the flight, and soon the aircraft taxied off. The weather wasn’t particularly clement that morning, but what will I do? Did I hear you say, “Take a train?” Nope, that would mean spending three and half hours from my city to Roma Termini. Then, getting off and taking the metro to Zona EUR. Your brother wasn’t ready for all that stress. Moreover, I had purchased the flight ticket a couple of months earlier, so the price offer was ok for my huge pocket.
Anyway, in a few minutes, we were thousands of feet above the earth crust.. sorry, I meant above sea level. When we had gotten to a cruising altitude, I decided it was time to stretch my legs a bit. Don’t blame me; I was sitting all the while I chatted with my barrister bruv, so the muscles of my lower limbs needed some blood supply and all the things that come with it.
Funny enough, when I stood up to make use of the restroom, I observed that she sat two rows behind me. In shock, my crazy mind began to both wonder and wander – “who knows who this lady is,” I thought to myself. My mind flashed back to the stories I’ve heard of mermaids that caused air mishaps in recent years in some countries.
“I hope she’s not one of those demonic agents that were sent by my village people because we’re closer to thunder and lightning up here.” Anyway, I had prayed in the days leading up to this conference, and I also prayed fervently before leaving the house this morning. So, no weapon fashioned against me shall prosper. Everyone in this aircraft is safe since I’m in it. It’s not a boast, it’s a covenant.
It was only later that I discovered that she is the first vice-chairman of the American Heart Association(AHA), as well as the assistant editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, in charge of cardiothoracic surgery. In my mind, I felt that she had decided to come to see my presentation because a few weeks ago I had submitted my research papers to her prestigious journal for publication. So, maybe she decided to attend the conference to hear the author herself. Well, not really. She was there to present her research work too but seeing that her session is the following day, she decided to attend some of the sessions today.
Anyway, seeing she wasn’t there for me… obviously, I decided to throw my shyness away through the roof and walk up to her after my presentation. I had to get to know her seeing we basically came from the same city. It was high time we talked and exchanged greetings in a proper way.
So, when I was done with my presentation, I humbly thanked my audience for their attention and pertinent and insightful questions, with my gaze all monitoring her to make sure she doesn’t escape to an unknown place. Hmm… sorry, it didn’t really happen that way. She was actually the one that walked up to me after my presentation to congratulate me on the work I did. I was busy fixing my computer when I heard a gentle voice behind me, “Dr Chibii, that was a terrific research work and presentation. Well detailed and of a great surgical relevance.”
I don’t know whether it was the word “terrific” or the gentle voice with which she said it that made me lose my well-prepared composure. The next thing that escaped my buccal cavity was, “thank you Ma’am for that encouragement and words of gentleness and inspiration and insight… and… and beautiful.”
I mean who does that? The most you can do in response to such a warm compliment is to beam a warm smile in return and say, “thank you for your words.” And maybe if you’re just over the moon, just add “they mean a lot to me.” Full stop!
Anyway, we got talking and I offered to show her around Rome, at least the places I’m familiar with. She agreed and an appointment was fixed the following day at 4 pm after her presentation. Well, the rest of the story will be written by her.
So, here are a few things to takeaway, beside the ones already in your mind:
1. Life is a journey. As long as you’re alive, you keep moving, going from one place to another until you find your destination.
2. We are all like people at the departure lounge in an airport, waiting for the right time to board our flights to our destinations.
3. Everyone has a destination. You can’t sleep at the airport, it’s not your house.
4. But here is the thing: some people actually work in the airport, so entertaining an endless discussion with them is a waste of your time.
6. Not everyone is going in your direction. And it’s fine. We all have different visions, and going to different places that’ll enable us to accomplish those visions.
7. That we have different destinations doesn’t make my destination less or more valid than yours.
8. Some people you meet are meant to last for the length of an airport conversation while waiting for your individual flights.
9. Learn the much you can from every interaction you have with people. Everyone carries their baggage of experiences. So, pick what will be necessary for the accomplishment of your goals.
10. Wisdom is the ability to discern who is flying with you and who isn’t. Who is going in your direction and who isn’t.
11. It’s not a wrong idea to know the direction (read vision) of the person you’re conversing with. It helps you know how long the conversation will last and what type of topics to even discuss.
12. Sometimes, the one going in your direction isn’t immediately noticed until it’s the right time – time of departure.
13. Don’t stretch a conversation that should end or that should be paused, to be continued at a later time. Except you want to miss your flight and never get to your destination.
14. You mustn’t be close physically to have an interesting conversation. Some interactions are very good online.
15. Oh sorry, I almost forgot: some people just came to the airport to wait for their friend who’s coming in from France. They aren’t travelling anywhere.
16. Life is a journey. The flights are known. The destinations too. You make your choice.
*I’m sure you noticed that lesson 5 is missing. Here it is, “Same Departure lounge, Different destinations.”
Thanks for reading. Please share this article if you found it helpful. See you tomorrow with another dose of inspiration. And Have a lovely day.
Sorry but this fiction doesn’t have a Part two. Now, you know.