The plane from Cincinnati to Washington, DC was a petite one, leaving little room for carry-on luggage and even less for calm. After ferreting out my medication bag from my suitcase, I checked it at the gate and ended up second-to-last to board the plane.
“Smells like … something, doesn’t it?” The gentleman behind me asked casually. I wasn’t sure if he was addressing me, but I answered anyway.
“It does. Like a ham sandwich. Or Bad Thanksgiving,” I replied, noticing that the plane had a “stale cold cuts” smell to it.
We boarded the small plane and took our seats at the back of it. Turns out the scent-sitive man who boarded behind me was also my seatmate.
We chatted briefly for a few moments about what we did for work – he worked for a surgical medical device company, I told him I was a writer – and then the discussion turned specifically to medical devices.
“I’m familiar, to a certain extent, with some medical devices. I wear a few for diabetes management,” I said. “Going through TSA is always interesting.”
He looked at me for a minute. “Diabetes? Type 1?”
“Yes. Since I was seven years old.”
“My daughter is nine. She also has type 1.”
And over the course of our flight to Washington, DC on the plane that smelled like spoiled lunch, this kind man and I compared notes on life with type 1 diabetes from our different perspectives. It wasn’t a life-changing moment or a pivotal interaction, but served to confirm once again, how diabetes becomes a common thread that brings strangers together.
Even on a stinky plane.