I found myself traveling over the New Year’s holiday and the experience reminded me of just how diverse the world really is. America is truly a melting pot, of nationalities and races, but also a full range of personalities of people of many different ages.
It was a small child that got my mind wondering on the subject of people. I don’t know the curly, blond-haired little girl’s name because, frankly, I didn’t speak to her much. That doesn’t mean we didn’t communicate.
It started with a smile as I sat next to her on a plane. She was clearly on her first adventure in the friendly skies and was soaking it all in as she made the trip to the nation’s capital. Throughout the flight, she would smile at me once in a while as if to say “isn’t this fun.”
The emotions changed when we went through a period of turbulence as our plane landed. Her little mind didn’t understand why her ears were hurting and why our plane was shaking like a washing machine in the midst of its spin cycle. That ended with my young friend’s head on my shoulder.
It didn’t bother her a bit that she had known me less than an hour. Her mother was understandingly observant of the situation but tolerated it with a smile. The whole experience reminded me of the true innocence of children.
An experience with a physician later in the week showed me another side of human nature. I encountered a master surgeon who had performed life-saving surgery on a family member. I spoke only briefly to him, but he made his confidence very clear.
He was a doctor and like many, the kind who are experts and they know it. These physicians, at times, make patients and families hesitant to ask questions because they can get defensive when anyone questions anything they do.
Those doctors deserve to be confident. Their work changes lives. Three doctors, very similar to this surgeon, changed my life 13 years ago with years of observations and a 12-hour brain surgery. That is another story for another day.
My recent travel experiences reminded me of something I learned a long time ago, that it truly takes all types of personalities to make this world spin. Each day in this job I encounter different personality types. Some of the encounters are pleasant and some, frankly, are not.
I have now worked at three newspapers in my life and at each I learned that these businesses draw certain types of personalities. Some of them stop by on a regular basis. Some are recognized by their voice throughout the building.
Almost all are interesting people who bring interesting story ideas. These encounters are part of what has kept me in this business now for more than 20 years.
Tom Woerner is a reporter with The Daily Record. Reach him at 910-230-2038 or firstname.lastname@example.org.