Q: If I find myself sitting next to someone I have never met, be it on an airplane or waiting in line or at a concert, should I introduce myself to that person?
Here are some examples:
A few days ago a member of my temple who is an Israeli said she had just flown in from Tel Aviv, and that the man sitting next to her was one of Israel’s most famous musicians.
Just this morning I introduced myself to a woman standing near me at a local Starbucks, and learned that her grandfather was the lyricist of the song “Moonlight Serenade.”
I also just wrote a post about a fellow congregant who met Howard Schulz, CEO of Starbucks, on a plane flight.
Fran Allen once told me that IBM’s greatest security risk was IBM Fellow Marty Hopkins. He would always introduce himself to the person in the next seat on a plane, or if that person were busy he would look for a fellow IBMer on the plane. In either event, he would then begin relating IBM’s deepest, darkest secrets, shouting them out if he saw an IBMer sitting several seats away.
My most memorable such encounter came during a trans-Atlantic flight in the 1970’s when my wife and I were enroute to Moscow to attend a conference on SETL sponsored by our National Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Sciences,. (Russian: Росси́йская акаде́мия нау́к, Rossi’iskaya akade’miya nau’k, shortened to PAH, RAN.)
I introduced myself to the man sitting next to me.
I can’t recall his name as I write this, though I do recall that:
- He was from Massachusetts;
- He had some other physical limitation, though perhaps he just said he had a bad back and thus flying was quite uncomfortable;
- He was a member of the US Delegation to the United Nations, where he had a senior position;
- He had served in the US House of Representatives;
- He was enroute to a conference/meeting about the “Law of the Sea”;
- He was a colleague of Eliot Richardson
I just did a search using Google and expect that his name can be found in the following document: oreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume E-14, Part 1, Documents on the United Nations, 1973-1976.
He was a wonderfu, wonderful man, and I recall reading with great regret his obituary a few years later.
?? – May His Memory Be a Blessing.