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Close Encounters of the 4th Kind

07 March 2011

It was a sunny afternoon, not a cloud in the sky. The mood was light and the air hazy with the luscious smell of plane fuel. I was at Perth airport (again) lining up (again) to board the plane to Brisbane when something happened. Damn plane was delayed and all my delicious thoughts dissipated in a flurry.

Standing next to me, one in front and one behind was a good looking young man and a slightly older woman. Well of course we did the mandatory bitching about the airline industry before introducing ourselves. The young man, Sam, was quite vocal in his disappointment as this meant he would miss his connecting bus to the Sunshine Coast on arrival. I impetuously announced that I too was going to the Sunshine Coast and would he like a lift in my hire car. Well, this was obviously manna from heaven and he readily accepted my offer. I on the other hand having realised too late that I had offered a stranger a lift was slightly dismayed and maybe a little perturbed by my runaway mouth.

Whilst I was doing my time in the line (around 30 minutes) I starting chatting with the woman whose name by the way was Lorraine. Once at the counter and having checked in, Lorraine and I proceeded to the lounge for coffee and a chat as women do whilst the young man went off to find a shower. I confided my thoughts and we shared some musings as to the young man's occupation. He had told us both he had been on tour and was returning home and that he had travelled from Margaret River to catch this plane. Our first thoughts were that he was a musician or a surfie. I felt intuitively that he was a decent enough young fellow (or maybe I was just convinced by the cute grin - whose to know!) and Lorraine assured me that she thought so too (again, maybe just the grin).

Anyway to cut a long story short we arrived in Brisbane and Sam and I left in my little hire car. As we were leaving the airport I casually asked him what he was doing in WA. He replied that he travelled all over the country as one half of a stage act. By this time I was very curious and I asked which one and he replied \"Puppetry of the Penis\". Well, thank god it was dark because after swallowing enough spit to kill a cow, the skin on my face inflamed to the point of eruption. However with all the dignity of a rat on a sinking ship I said, \"Oh, that must be interesting. Do you like it?\"

Thankfully it seems Sam thought it was a wonderful opportunity and didn't seem to notice the muted choking sound coming from my throat. He seemed pleased to chat on the vagaries of touring with such an unusual show, his exploits with girls and his ambitions in life. Sam turned out to be a delightful young man who thoroughly enjoyed his lot in life and was working in the only way he knew how, towards a career on the stage and in TV.

I wonder though, if he had told me what his occupation was in that line at the airport, if I would have responded in the same manner - and it got me thinking. How many times do we categorise people, shove them in a box and put them away just because we assume they are a certain sort of person from their choice of occupation? This encounter of the 4th and best kind has reminded me, as life lessons always do, to look under the covers (although probably in this case that might be a little too revealing) and to not lose the spontaneous urge to help someone just because they need it.