A grey haired man sat in the window seat of row 10. A young man wearing a floral patterned flat bill hat stopped at the same row and asked, “This is my seat. How are you doing?” The grey haired man replied, “I’m well. Yourself?”

“Oh you know, headed back to school now. My parents bought me a plane ticket to come home for the weekend because I didn’t come home this summer. I was in New York at a camp with kids.”

“What were you doing over there?”

“Oh I’m majoring in Recreation Conservation so I just worked at a summer camp with kids in the woods.”

“Where in New York?”

“Upstate New York, just a small town.”

“Where at?”

“North of Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park.”

“Oh really? I did a similar camp during my undergrad. In Rhinebeck, north of Hyde Park.”

“Yeah yeah, for sure. That’s crazy.”

They continued to talk about summer camps they’ve done. The young man rambles on about hos his father is from butte and why he’s in Missoula. The grey-haired man continued to listen and nod, responding with the occasional ‘oh really?’ and ‘that’s nice.’

The flight attendants came through with beverage service and the young man ordered a beer. He brought out his passport to prove his age. The flight attendant found his birthday while looking back and forth from the picture to the man, “Oh happy early birthday. Let me grab your beer,” she said cheerfully. “How old will you be?” the grey-haired man asked.

“I’ll be 22.”

“Wow. You talked so well I wouldn’t have expected you to be so young.”

“Well thank you, sir. So what do you do?”

“I’m a retired professor at the University. I was the Dean of the Humanities department years ago. Now I just travel and hang around Missoula doing whatever my wife tells me. It’s a pretty good retirement I think. What is your favorite class you have taken?”

“Do you know Mehrdad? I took Islamic Civ. with him even though it’s out of my major. My roommate took the class and said, ‘Man you have to take this class.’”

“Yes, I know him. He’s a very good teacher.”

“He’s got this way about him, a presence, in the lecture hall. He’s incredible. Well so, his TA was named Carson, and I met with him a few times. I like to talk to people, as you can tell, and he told me this story. He told me Mehrdad sent a packet of something back to his home to when he got it back in the mail, it had a bullet hole through it. That’s what he told me, it’s just crazy.”

“Wow, that is intense.”

“Those guys have such good mindsets, I mean you have to. The best this Mehrdad ever said in class was, ‘Religion is about your relationship with God and when you start putting that on other people is when conflict begins.’ I really admire him.”

“Yeah, he’s a pretty awesome guy.”

The two men continued to talk for the remaining half hour of the flight from Seattle to Missoula. The young man did most of the talking with the grey-haired man intently listening. As the plane landed they began talking about the weather but before parting ways the young man asked, “Just from talking to you I can’t understand why you don’t teach anymore.” “Well, you did most of the talking anyway. I’m good at listening now,” the grey-haired man explained. “Well if you ever came back I would take a class from you in a heartbeat,” the young man pleaded as he stepped into the aisle to get his bag from the overhead bin. Before falling in line behind him, the grey-haired man explained his reasoning, “Oh son, I’m old. And you don’t want to take a class from me anyways. Trust me.”