I really shouldn't have been surprised, because I almost always see someone I recognize or know on a flight into Shreveport. But being a professional reporter now can make that a bit different from running into an old friend who is happy to see you.
Heading back here Tuesday morning from a short layover in Atlanta, I was walking toward the steps to my Delta Connection puddle jumper when I noticed Shreveport Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran ahead of me. As we got closer in line I said hello and asked where he was coming from (which happened to be an International Association of Fire Chiefs meeting, of which he is the 2nd vice president), and we made a some small talk.
When I boarded the plane, much to my surprise (and maybe his annoyance?) I had to ask him to let me into his row so I could sit in seat 5A -- the window seat directly beside his. He had to have been thinking, "Why does this reporter have to sit with me?" And it really was my spot. I wasn't being sneaky.
Maybe I over analyze, but I was thinking, "Dang, I should come up with some really good questions to ask him." ("Good" might reads "pesky" when it comes to questions in journalism lingo.) I didn't have any specific future article in mind, I just felt like it was my duty.
But honestly, I was exhausted. I had an incredibly fun weekend, which meant little sleep, and I was going from my touchdown at Shreveport Regional to the office with little precious time between.
And I had a little sympathy for him. Yes, he's a public official, but I'm not sure I would not want to sit beside myself in the wee hours if it was possible for me to have an out-of-body experience. So I more-or-less told him he wasn't going to have to worry about getting grilled by a sleepy journalist. (Grilled is probably not the best idiom to use when talking about a firefighter, is it? Certainly no disrespect intended.)
Fortunately, he was extremely gracious in answering my few questions, though I certainly wouldn't say he was chatty on this particular occasion. I think we both probably needed a short nap during the ride. And I don't think I passed out on his shoulder or anything.