I flew back from Stockholm yesterday and was upgraded to Business Class, which was a nice surprise. After I got settled in my aisle seat, a women asked me to change seats so that she could sit with her (adult) daughter. I agreed a little grumpily, since this meant I had to pull my luggage out of the overhead bin and travel toward the front of the plane, upstream against a torrent of boarding passengers. But I did it, and mercifully got another aisle seat in trade, and even better, my new seat mate was a nice and friendly young man who was returning home from a series of international track meets. He was going to spend a few weeks training, and then in August fly to Beijing to compete in the Olympics, which he had already qualified for. His life story is a very interesting and compelling one, and I enjoyed talking to him a lot. I’m not going to reveal his name here, at least for the time being, but I’ll be cheering for him during the Olympics, no question. Now here is where things get freaky weird, in a very cool way. My seat mate was wearing a tee shirt that said “Power To The People” and bore a graphic depiction of the winners’ platform at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, when Tommie Smith (US gold medalist in the 200 meter race) and his teammate John Carlos famously raised their gloved fists in the Black Power salute. And sitting to my left, just across the aisle, also returning from a series of international track meets (as it turns out, many of the people on the plane were) where he had been coaching was … Tommie Smith. I kid you not.
The conversation that followed when a friendly and observant flight attendant made the connection and pointed all this out was amazing; one of the coolest things I’ve witnessed in a long time. The two had not met before, but I think they will stay in touch now.
So I’m back, and will blog more when the jet lag passes and eight million errands are complete.