I'm beginning to think that my social life would be worlds better if I traveled more for work. Every time I'm on the corporate shuttle, I meet someone fascinating. Last time, I even got a treadmill out of the deal.
This time, I sat next to a guy who was the only other person on the plane paying attention during the safety demonstration (we almost knocked heads trying to confirm the location of the exit in row 9--I get very superstitious if I fly when I have dirty dishes in the sink). After that spectacularly nerdy introduction, there was only one way to proceed, and that was to settle down into our nerdiness with the comfort of folks who recognized each other.
He opened by inquiring about my book (the biggest book I've read in ages, Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, which I was alternately soldiering through and falling asleep over). From there we had a lovely, free-ranging, footnoted conversation that covered WWII history, science fiction, the partition of India, Irish fiddling, New York, neurology, and (try not to fall over from surprise) politics. I learned that his wife is from Taiwan and that his father died tragically while they were on a tour of Ecuador. He also turned out to be from Iowa (where I went to college at a school chosen by many of his family members) and to have worked in New Mexico (where I was born).
Sometimes I can't wait to move to a job where I work with fewer engineers, but on days like this I can't help but think that engineers are right up there with Freddie Mercury and Eddie Izzard, making the world an infinitely strange and interesting place.