That moment when you’re boarding the plane and the only seat left is a middle seat between a grandma and a young mom with a crying baby. Gently, I hopped over grandma and plopped down smack dab in the middle of 2 (3 counting the baby) strangers. The mom was preoccupied trying to get Madison her 1 year old baby to stop crying. Naturally, I turned my head to the right and said, “Hi I’m Freddie. What’s your name?” Grandma said, “Hi there my name is Carri. Carri without the e on the end.” I replied, “I only knew one Carrie and she spelt it with an E and she was my grandma.” That polite small talk turned into a 2 hour conversation all the way to Denver.
We talked about everything! Actually Carri talked and I listened most of the time. She started by talking about how she was on her way to visit family. Later I found out she was going to visit her sister in Connecticut. Carri went on to talk about how she was adopted, that she just met her biological Armenian family on the East Coast 8 years ago.
Carri and I then talked about how her and her husband owned a large printing company for 25 years. She added how one time a car dealership wanted to run promotionals on brown paper bag lunches. Her and her husband (Eric) had the attitude that we’ll try anything. Carri was a wealth of knowledge and entrepreneurial mindset ideologies. She added how she had been a nationwide traveling corporate trainer for a software program and how some people back in the day couldn’t get their heads wrapped around new technology trainings she facilitated. Employees would just quit because learning new Microsoft technologies was much harder than the old dots version. After all that career talk, she said, “but you know what Freddie… My greatest accomplishment in life has been raising 3 good people.” Carri lit up and started to talk about how proud she was of her three children. We ended the conversation with trying to find her 22 year old son a lady friend. If there are any girls out there looking for a guy that’s into Frank Sinatra, the Rat Pack, & golfing… Carri has a son for you! Enjoyed listening to you Carri!
We landed in Denver with a ton of turbulence and I found a super shuttle to take me to my hotel downtown. Jamal was our limo driver. I must say, it was one of the most fun car rides I’ve ever been on with 7 random strangers. None of us knew each other except the married couple (Bryce & Jennifer) but everyone was so friendly talking about where each other was from. Bryce spent 5 years in the military and earned 2 Purple Hearts! Two Purple Hearts!!! He was blown up twice in Iraq and had metal blown all through his body.
Jamal was our driver. Jamal was 34, African American, and wore a beanie to cover his bald head. I was fortunate enough to sit shotgun in our limo truck. Jamal and I were cracking jokes and laughing the whole 45 minute ride from the airport to the hotel. I could tell Jamal had a story just by sensing his presence. I cautiously starting to ask a few questions like “how long have you lived in Denver?” And “where were you before Denver?” It didn’t take long and Jamal started to share a very interesting story. Jamal was 34 and had lived in Denver for 15 years. Before he was in Minnesota for 3 months, New York for 6 months, Sudan for 3 years, and was born and raised in Ethiopia, Africa as a boy.
Jamal’s dad was a trouble maker and was arrested many times while he was a little boy. When Jamal was 10 the governing body got fed up with Jamal’s dad and so they moved Jamal, his dad, and his whole family to Sudan (just because they didn’t want him in Ethiopia anymore). Jamal grew up very poor and went days without eating and shots fired was a normal thing for him growing up. He was lucky to get out and head to New York with his 10 other family members. His family set up an arranged marriage with his now wife and 3 kids.
At this point, Bryce chimed in and said, “Wait so you didn’t do the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing? You didn’t experience other girls? Dating?” Jamal said, “No. That was it. And we’ve been happily married since.” It was a very fascinating story. His whole family of 19 now live in the same county in Denver.
Finally, this evening I was finishing up some work. I saw it starting to snow outside and as any California kid who doesn’t see snow everyday would do… I went outside. I ran into 4 ladies and sparked conversation. I found out three of them were from Louisana and one was from Texas. Heather from Baton Rogue started to share about how over a decade later her hometown is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. She said, “Everyone in Louisana always has an excuse to party!” She said, Mardi Gras actually isn’t fun for her because it’s normally a lot of people and it’s very dirty. Referring to it not being very clean. Everyone is a Saints football fan and she feels like everyone outside of Lousiana thinks they’re swamp people!
Wanted to share a few stories tonight of fascinating people I met along my journeys and I’ll write more about these experiences soon. Also, apologies for grammar mistakes. Typed this blog from my phone. Below is a selfie with the random strangers I met from Louisana. Aka – new bff’s