Ahhh. An exit row. How awesome is that. Nothing beats being able to stretch out in the exit row on a plane with crowded seats and crying babies. I was headed to Minneapolis/St. Paul and was prepared to sleep my way there.
Then came 11E. He was a handsome fellow...and I knew there was no way he'd be sitting next to me...I always get old men with hankies and mothers with babies. But in the aisle he came and immediately started talking about how great the extra room in the exit aisle was. One sentence led to another (you never know how much a person next to you on the plane wants to talk...and even when you are with friends or family, the chances of you talking the entire two and a half hour plane ride are minimal.) But somehow, Joe (his anonymity name) and I were able to do it. We had a cadre of things to talk about once we started. One loop of a conversation led to another loop and before I knew it, we landed in Minnesota.
We started of course with work.
"I'm a police officer," he says, kind of under his breath.
"Really?!" In DC?," I ask.
From this, I lay a multitude of questions before him.
What do you do? Where specifically do you work? How long have you been on the force? What brought you do DC? Do you have your own car or do you ride with a partner? What are your shifts like? Mornings? Afternoons? Are you out in the streets? Do you work undercover?
Blah, blah, blah. I just wouldn't give it up. Growing up with a father who retired from a 30-year career with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, my automatic was to compare Joe's job to that of my father's and contrast the differences. It was apparent Joe had a college degree, possibly in Criminal Justice or something, and his work experiences were in Colorado and now DC. So I knew he had some talent and knowledge in his field.
He quite nicely, but vaguely, answered all of my questions. And when we realized he left his cell phone in the airport lounge back in DC, I was quick to encourage him to use his DC police credentials to have security at Minneapolis help him start the "cell phone hunt." He told me that probably wouldn't be right, but I insisted. I told him stories about Dad using his patrol ID and things always worked out, like, for instance, the time he was stuck at the Canadian border and when asked to produce ID, was whisked across the border like royalty. Nothing wrong with that.
So, needless to say, the majority of the time that we talked about his job, I dominated the conversation with my "extensive" background knowledge of police work. When we got off the plane, he offered to have a drink if we both had layovers. I declined due to my second plane already boarding, but as we walked toward my gate, he said, "Well, I thought, since we're parting ways now, you might like to see this," and he hands me his badge. It was large, and looked like your typical police badge. It was on top of a large, black leather wallet, and I thought it was awesome that he wanted to share it with me. "Awww," I was touched by the gesture, "Thanks for showing me."
When I handed it back, he opened up the wallet showing me the ID inside...and his agent number for the United States Central Intelligence Agency.
Yeah! This only happens to me...give him all the downlow on how to be a great police officer and he's a stinking CIA agent!!?? And the worst part...I won't even tell you all the details of our conversation I covered on how much I love CIA movies and books and how I can't wait for the new Bourne movie to come out.
I am such an idiot!!! And I'm sure he thought so too. But, that's just me. It was a fun ride and memorable experience. I'm definitely going to develop this story into something even greater! :) Maybe a big spy story lie about how I helped him apprehend a criminal on the plane...now wouldn't that be fun!!!