They say we learn something new every day. Even I say that every once in a while, mostly when I realize I really have learned something new, often an unexpected fact. Then there are the things you learn and keep telling forward even though you really can’t explain them, not really, and even though you can’t be really sure if they’re true.
I have two such stories. I still keep telling them to people, even though I have no idea if they’re true or not, and if pressed, would probably guess that they’re not true.
In fact, I told one of them to our neighbors just the other day. We were sitting at a restaurant on the ferry to Finland, having met there by coincidence, and as we talked while the kids were in the playland, the ferry moved sideways a little. Not as if in a storm, but just a little so that people stopped walking on the decks, and grabbed a hold of the tables in the restaurants, leaning back, trying to figure out if the problem was the ferry or their heads.
“You know, a buddy of mine is a chef on one of these ferries, and he’s told me that sometimes, when they wash the floor in the kitchen, they call the captain up on the bridge, and ask him to tilt the ferry juuuust a little, so the water falls down the drain,” I said.
“So they wouldn’t have to mop it, you know,” I added.
“Aaaah,” our neighbors said.
“So maybe that was what just happened. Maybe the chef called the captain to ask him to make the water go down the drain,” I said.
Every word I said was true, except that I don’t know if they really do it.
The other thing I keep telling a a curious one, considering the fact that I have worked at a pilot school. On my way back from my first trip to the US – a Rotary summary exchange – I sat next to a couple of other kids from my hometown because my host family had left for their summer vacation and they had dumped me onto this other family for the last week of my stay.
Somewhere over the Atlantic, the kid brother of a girl that had been in my class told me that a DC10 plane could do a full loop, “without the passengers ever noticing anything,” he said.
I said, “no”, he said, “yes,” the other kids were on my side, so we all said, “no”, but he insisted that it was true. That it would be such a slow loop that people wouldn’t notice anything.
“What about the luggage? What about gravity?” we tried.
“It’s like when you swing water in a bucket, and don’t lose a drop,” he said.
And so, thirty years later, every time I board a big plane, I think about that, and if I feel really chatty, I tell that story to whoever is sitting next to me. And when they say “no!”, I just say, “yes, a buddy told me that a long time ago.”