SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 53: The City Of Brotherly Love

I’m going to do things a little different today. On a plane as I write this entry. No idea of who I’m going to photograph today. Had a short conversation with the flight crew, but no takers. Got to give them credit for what they do in making us all comfortable.

What is it with my seat assignment luck? Last time on the reverse leg of this same journey, I sat next to “Stinky Foot Man.” That is what inspired me to start 365. Had to type to escape the nose shock.

Today I find myself equally lucky, seated across the row from “Snore Man.” Snorers of the world, please do not be offended. I’m in your camp, being known to wail a touch in my sleep. But truly, this is no normal snore. It is magical and of epic proportion.

Let me see if I can communicate this sound in writing. The source of this amazing symphony of guttural volume is literally three feet from my left ear. Morbid curiosity sucks me in and I have to get a visual take. I peak to the left and am united in a team like gaze from passenger 32. We are obviously awed by the open mouth of this operatic performer. Enough visual, eyes pop back to enjoying the seat tray.

Standard headphones have no impact on this reverberating distraction. Even as I am typing, the volume and inconsistent cadence of sounds I thought were humanly impossible are resonating over my shoulder and into my head. Help! Anything to aid me! I contemplate packing my ears with cocktail napkins, but fear of self-injury halts my action. Yet I can’t help but be impressed by this virtuoso of artistic sleep. I accept the call to audience, sitting back to prepare for the performance to come.  But wait! My performing neighbor show signs of body shuffle. I pause; holding still with anticipation, not sure if relieved or dissapointed at the prospect of a canceled show. And feeling too self conscience to look left, and hoping my flying friend and sleep performer is not a nosy reader of my iPad screen, I accept the fact the show is probably over.

Now strangely feeling let down, I settle into the silence of jet engine whur with two questions, both unresolved, stuck in my mind: “Where do I get my refund for the canceled performance?” and, “Did I made it through the snore storm?”

The sky is getting bumpy, last approach announcement sounding. I must stow my typing escape and prepare for finding today’s 365 friend, hopefully in route to my hotel.

Just shutting down. Crud! Snore resumes. It’s going to be a gnarly landing!

Talk in a few.

After nine hours of travel, three of which are audibly abusive, I have managed to let go of my snore jitters enough to find today’s friend.

Tomorrow is a big day of business, and after my flight’s ear pounding, I really need to get some sleep, feeling the snore tale is enough journalistic travel entertainment for today, I’ll jump right in.

Say “Hello” to the happiest faces I’ve seen all day, Felicia and Fred, the front desk team at The Hampton Inn. From the moment I walk into the hotel their welcome to the world attitude and warm customer service make me want to move my family to Philadelphia.

We chat for a while and I walk away with a smile on my face. Fred, an aspiring business owner to be, tells me of his dream of owning an arts and crafts store. Being somewhat artistic myself I can understand his desires. We talk of product and his history as a Philly native. His advise for us all, “Never give up on your dreams, keep trying until they are a reality.” A messeage we’ve heard from so many of our 365 friends.

What can I say about Felicia? – the first of my two new friends to smile withe me this evening. Her energy is huge. My snap shot of her does not fully capture the excitement she has for life. It is undeniable that this lady is special.

Felicia, a 30 year hospitality veteran, expands on Fred’s point of about never giving up on your dreams. She says, “If you feel inspired to do something, do it! No matter how difficult or crazy, follow it!”

“I love what I am doing; every day I get to smile at a new person.” I’ve been fortunate enough to be the recipient of said smile today and can confirm its sincerity.

A few minutes speaking with her forces me to think about the moment. Her position on living, “If I had to live to this point over again, I would not change a thing.” We should all aim for this mind-set.

Without probing for answers, she goes on, “My life is graceful and peaceful with not much drama. Overall it has been good to me. I love where I am.”

We talk a little more about this point. I ask her to clarify what she means. “I’m not talking about career or status, I’m talking about where I am mentally, physically and spiritually.”

Felicia has lots of friends, many of whom she has met easily by just sharing a smile and an honest “hello.” She jokes, “If I die tomorrow, my funeral will take 3 days, so that all of my friends can attend.”

As we wrap up our interview, I ask for any last thoughts. Her parting words, simple and sweet, “I like everybody!”

Felicia, Fred, Philly, Thanks for the warm welcome!