Ship of Fools

In the interest of full disclosure, it must be admitted that this didn’t take place on an actual seagoing vessel. Further, it cannot be proved that all of the people involved were fools.

Picture this: We arrived in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Airport/Wold-Chamberlain Field after five and a half hours on the airplane. I thought it was six hours but Himself says it only seemed that long. We’d flown from Milwaukee, normally a 48 minute flight, by way of Fargo, North Dakota. It had to do with a giant, late-in-the-season blizzard and a need to refuel, but that’s all too complicated for this account.

On a positive note, we have now been to Fargo, North Dakota, and it won’t be necessary to go there again, not that it had ever been a destination on either of our bucket lists.

Normally a very busy airport, on this day it bordered on chaotic with a definite pall of fatigue and despair thrown in. It was crowded, and when we finally found seats together in the waiting area, we stayed put, taking turns going for energy walks and refreshments. It was there we were entertained by other delayed passengers.

A nice little family in the facing row of seats told us that they were on their way to Orlando and Disney World.

“A family vacation before he goes off to college?” I wondered.

“Well, no, he’s only in eighth grade and it’s not quite time for spring break but we’re going anyway.”

So much for my powers of observation.

“Jim,” a name I made up because I don’t remember the real one and Jim seems to fit this quiet-spoken gentleman, revealed that he was a district representative for the Schwann’s company.

I noted that a Schwann’s truck goes down our street regularly and I’ve always had a curiosity about what they carry.

While we were talking we are joined by a tall woman, brittle blonde, dangerously thin and tottering on impossibly high heels. Himself describes her as a “rode hard, put up wet Mary Kay saleswoman” As it turns out, she’s a regional representative for a heavy equipment company. She remained in our group but was not fully participatory.

After we welcomed her, Jim went on describing Schwann’s offerings: “We have excellent lasagna and an eggplant parmesan that rivals the best Italian restaurant…”

“FROZEN?” Interrupts Max who plops down without introducing himself to our little village. “I wouldn’t let my wife keep ANY frozen food in my kitchen! And Italian food? Frozen Italian food? Disgusting! I wouldn’t feed it to my dog.”

Jim’s smiling eyes meet mine.

In an attempt to divert him from lambasting gentle Jim’s product line, I asked Max which Italian restaurants he preferred.

“The best Italian restaurant is in my kitchen in Frisco, Texas.”

Well! Now we are properly impressed that he lives in an upscale Dallas suburb.

Max went on educating us on the superiority of his kitchen and, well, his general superiority. “My wife had something in the freezer for two days and I made her throw it out!” Quite the purist is our Max.

He did introduce himself in a series of anecdotes including the one about how he was a retired salesman originally from Brooklyn, New York. I know we were all surprised to learn that! He was just in Minneapolis, he explained, to help out a buddy who had begged him for help in his business. He then excused himself to make a phone call.

In Max’s too-temporary absence we found out that Jim knew exactly where we lived and that he frequently enjoyed Prima Pasta, our own favorite Italian restaurant.

Max re-entered from stage right, called his mother on his cell phone, and proceeded to regale her about the wonderful, high-paying job offer he had just received. Perhaps mama had a hearing problem which might explain the volume of his side of the conversation.

Astute observers, such as our own selves, might have concluded that “helping his buddy,’ was probably a job interview. Facts and figures, not as impressive as he probably intended, about salary and bonuses flew enthusiastically from his silver tongue. As his conversation with Mama slowed, he reassured her that even though he’d been delayed, he would be home soon. “I talked to the Captain of our flight, and he is a very capable fellow,” he declared. I know we were all greatly comforted.

Characters. Characters are what make life interesting, aren’t they? It was a big blizzard that trapped us in the airport, and this drama lasted, with different characters entering and leaving the stage for about eight hours.

“All’s well that ends well.” and the curtain closes on this play with the two of us safely home in our own beds.


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