Short Story: Shallow Young Guy/ Old Wise Man

Shallow Young Guy/Old Wise Man

I’m waiting. I’m waiting. I’m having shallow assessments even though I don’t want too. I look at that girl and think one thing. I look at that guy and think of another thing. I catch myself and become annoyed with myself because I hate when people judge what they don’t know, and I’m doing it. I hear the bell CLING and hear a voice over the intercom of the cheerful Colleen:

Flight 818 to Los Angeles is allowing upgrades for 99.00 dollars. That means you upgrade to business class – you’re the first one on and the first one off. Also, you have your own flight attendant.

Thanks, Colleen. Who would want to upgrade for a four-hour flight at this point? Why is it so expensive? Why do I feel inadequate because I can’t justify the money on the upgrade? Also, when did “business class” become the new “first class” who are they kidding. Are we trying to pretend that “classes” don’t exist?

I’ll just sit here and hope my mind doesn’t wander down the judgmental road. Just as I thought that an older man who with a cane and briefcase, who looked like he popped out of the movie UP (judging) strolled about 2 seats away from me. As he sat down I looked and gave the head nod. Apparently that was all he needed, because in his partially raspy voice he said -

Are you going to Denver?

No, Los Angeles.

I’m going to Denver. But I don’t like to sit so close to all the people so I always sit in the gate away from my gate. But I can keep an eye on things from here.

He was with me sitting at Gate 70 while crowds started to form at Gate 68 heading to Denver.

My sister lives in Colorado. It’s beautiful.

Ah, yeah. I’m just going to go.

Oh. Okay.

I am.


You don’t think I am.

He’s right, I’m sitting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I didn’t think this mid 70’s man was just going somewhere just to go. But I thought I was being nice by playfully agreeing with him.

Sometimes when you gotta go, you gotta go,
he said.

At first I didn’t know if he was talking about peeing but I assume he meant flying.

Who you going to visit?

Nobody, I live in Los Angeles.

Why you here?

My family lives here.

You happy to go to LA?

I was going to make some shallow comment about how great the weather is and how I love Los Angeles. But I thought I would go with the truth route for now.

Yes I’m happy but it’s tough to leave my family sometimes.

And you can’t beat the weather!
(he said it not me)


It’s tough to leave?

I think so.

You a worrier?

I tried to make a joke, We all worry don’t we?


Shit. He said No with such authority I actually believed him.

How do you not worry? Do you have family?

I do.

And you never worry? Not once?

I did. But it doesn’t help.

Well yeah, it doesn’t help it just happens.

He took a long moment…

I suppose you’re right. Just don’t worry about what’s behind you. If you worry about what’s behind you then you’re an idiot. Listen to me. You always need to look ahead, always look forward, never sideways or backwards. Forward.

He meant what he was saying and I couldn’t figure out why he was saying it. I got a sense that he may have made some mistakes in his life. He’s giving me a bit of knowledge that I can only learn by possibly experiencing the mistakes myself. I’ve heard all of this before but there was such sincerity in his voice that I couldn’t help but take it to heart. I didn’t know what to say.


The moment you start to worry about what’s behind you and what you can’t control…well…then… you lost. Whenever something happens you always –

CLING! He was stopped mid sentence -

In the airport the receptionists act as the voice of God:

Flight 452 to Denver, Colorado is allowing upgrades for 99.00 dollars. That means you upgrade to business class – you’re the first one on and the first one off. Also, you have your own flight attendant.

The old man got up quickly and stopped himself in the middle of what he was saying.

- Time to upgrade.

That’s it? Are you really just going to Denver just to go?

Don’t worry about other people.

And he walked away at a snails pace. I imagine it would have been a little more dramatic if he had some zip to his step but it really didn’t matter. He was another mystery shopper as far as I was concerned. If I didn’t talk to him I probably would have unwillingly made a smartass comment mentally that I didn’t want to make. Regardless, it’s pointless to worry about what I may or may not have done, it doesn’t matter anymore because the moment is passed.

The man was well out of view. As my mind raced and was anxious to board a plane I was hit with a few definitive thoughts –

1) Travel is knowledge. When you travel you gain knowledge. I don’t care if it’s down the street - you learn something if you want too.

2) No matter how much you want to fight it the older generation will always be more settled with themselves and their beliefs.

3) Age means wisdom. It’s ironic because I want the wisdom but I don’t want to age.

And of course: Always move forward.