Traveling, as I do, in uniform sometimes lead to interesting chance meetings - brushing against other peoples lives and realities as it were.
While at the airport in Amsterdam I ran into not one, but two US citizens... the first one was a gentleman about the age of my father-in-law, whom polity tapped my shoulder and inquired where I was from and where I was going while I was standing in line for buying a cup of hot cocoa. Since the story is there to see if you know a little bit about uniforms and patches, I told him as it is: I'm from Norway and I was heading to Sudan as part of the UN mission there. He smiled, nodded and thanked me for serving, before he hurried on his way - presumably having his own flight to catch. The second was a lady about my own age, who after making sure I wasn't "one of those SEALs" wanted to talk about the recent incident in Pakistan (which I'm sure everyone is aware of by now); wanting, as it were, my professional opinion. Our little chat quickly turned to Africa in general and the situation in Sudan in particular; she was heading to Ethiopia to do some unspecified work and had clearly spent some time reading up, and her conclusions were spot on and obvious to anyone familiar with that part of Africa (ie: corruption and inter tribal tension is the major stumbling blocks).
A few hours later, while sitting in my seat and reading a rather hefty tome of an airport book, a rather young looking stewardess came by, sat down in the empty seat across the aisle and after making sure I wasn't needing anything wondered where I was heading too... spoke to her for a good ten minutes, about the mission, the time spent away from home, the fact that I haven't really slept since yesterday... she was honest enough to let me know that she couldn't have a boyfriend who was away for two or three months, even if it was only for a year. In between offering to find an empty row so I could stretch out, she let me know that she though my wife must be a saint for waiting at home for me. I must admit... she's right. I'm a very lucky man to have such a wonderful, loving wife as I have.
Three chance meetings, three lives touched in different ways. I think I like traveling in uniform...