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Atypical Encounters: My Journey Into The New Year With Mr. Mystery On A Southwest Flight

By Melissa Delgadillo

It’s 7:40 PM, and I am sitting in the Phoenix Airport four days into the new year. Smashed burrito in my purse, waiting to board?the last leg of my Southwest flight after 3 weeks traveling, miraculously I am in an A boarding group. Only 2 more hours of traveling and I will be home, sweet home to officially kick off 2019.

I have the seat of my choice, carefully selecting the back-middle aisle seat, per my usual preference. The seats begin filling up and the flight attendant notifies the remaining passengers that this is a full flight and not to pass up any remaining seats. Here comes 6 foot 5 Paul Bunyan with a full long beard, looking as if he hasn’t showered in a few days, smelling of chewing tobacco. Without a word exchanged he motions for me to move so he can take the seat next to me.

I get up to let him in and as he sits down and his long legs press against the seat in front of him I contemplate offering him my aisle seat so he won’t be so miserable, however feeling less than pleasant I push the nice gesture out of my head and close my eyes, sitting in silence wishing the flight would just be over.

A few minutes pass and I feel a rustling next to me, Paul has pulled out a Blackberry, an MP3 player and massive headphones. He scrolls through his MP3 player I assume finding the perfect soothing music to pass the inflight time. To my surprise, heavy metal begins blasting through his headphones, so loud I feel as if I am at the concert with him. Lucky me, an unexpected date at an inflight concert.

The flight attendant begins drink service. Like a lady, I order a sparkling water with lime while Paul orders two Bourbon Gingers. As I finish my drink and Paul goes to sip his second–the cup goes flying with the entire drink spilling all over his table tray and onto his pants. Like a siren going off in my head, my brain begins seeing flashing red lights, “alert…alert there is a mess that needs cleaning up..alert.” My instinct kicks in and as fast as a lightning bolt I run to the back of the plane, grabbing a handful of napkins to help with the sticky fiasco. As I plunk the napkins on his table tray he looks at me like I have presented him with the golden ticket that will give him backstage access to his heavy metal concert. Apparently, I just passed the test and am now graced with conversation from Paul.

My terrible, horrible, no good, very bad flight turned around in an instant. A small gesture of kindness fixed my sour and judgmental demeanor and was all Paul seemed to need that day too. We ended up having the most entertaining conversation the duration of the flight, travel, business, family, past, present and future all took place in the remaining 1 hour and 15 minutes of travel. As the flight landed and we said our goodbyes, never even asking each other’s names, I felt rejuvenated and ready to take on 2019 with a little extra spring in my step. A conversation with Mr. ‘Bunyon’ was just what I needed. I was reminded that day to never judge a book by its cover or you may miss out on some of the greatest adventures life has to offer.

Happy New Year!

Melissa Delgadillo

Melissa Delgadillo


Melissa Delgadillo is the Founder of Monde and the PR & Events Manager for Snake River Farms. A creative enthusiast with over a decade of experience shaping brand stories, she thrives curating experiences and producing uplifting content that inspires the imagination. Follow her journey as she tells out-of-the-ordinary and uplifting stories at, and connect with her on social media @melissa__delgadillo and @mondelyfe.

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