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When the Japan Airline crew came over for dinner

May 10, 2023

I have one million fresh Japan Stories in my mind but THIS OLD ONE is the one I want to tell you. It was in spring 2004 when I was working at a pharma-company outside of Lucerne. The first job I found quickly after graduating as a food engineer and definitely just one for a little time : ). My working colleagues were wonderful though so I didn’t complain. What I did complain A LOT about was the 90 min commute. I HATED the 5:30 wake up call! WHO wants to have a 5 on their alarm clock? (Now I love it…haha…past me would hate on me today ; ))

Lucerne is a very touristy, very beautiful city and back then a lot of Japanese tourists were visiting. The train to Zurich was always crowded so I didn’t hesitate to ask a group of 7 Japanese If I could sit on the remaining seat in their compartment. Of course they wanted to know WHY I could speak Japanese (Ken still hates that sooo much that I have the urge to talk to any Japanese person wandering around in Switzerland : ) : ) and I don’t care) and we quickly became besties ; ).

They were pilots and flight attendants of JAL (Japan Airlines) on a long layover. When an announcement in German only told us that we need to leave the train, take a bus for a short distance and get into another train due to construction work. They praised me as their savior (as if THEY would be lost) because how would they have known what to do without me. A very bonding experience ; ).

In the next train they asked me where to go out for a real Swiss Cheese Fondue and I should join them and my husband too. As I told you, Ken is not fond of new Japanese friends BUT when he heard that it’s an airplane crew, he was too curious to meet them and joined us for dinner.

We had such a fun time together and they asked me what to do the next day. A real Swiss experience, off track they requested. A trip to our mountain cabin was too far away for a quick day trip but I had an idea.

I grew up with international friends of my parents visiting us all the time as we’ve spent part of my childhood in Iowa city (another story for another day) and my daddy had loads of work colleagues from around the world from the hydraulic research association he was part of. So I knew, if I called my parents and asked them if 7 people could come for dinner the next day, they would say yes for sure. I was right.

Just the post-bus ride through the Swiss countryside delighted these well-traveled people to the fullest already. Our little village looked like Disneyland to them and then we arrived at the amazing drive-way of my childhood home: The house, the history of the house, the fire-stove, the meal, the big table…they were amazed by everything and we had the greatest time together. I looooove my parents for being so social, so open, so interested in people, ready to make new friends… and I’m sooooo grateful that they taught me all these values since forever.

Talking to strangers and becoming friends. I love it! How about you? If you love it too, I applaud you.

If you were too shy to try up until now I can tell you: It’s easy if you just do it and look what happens. If the other person is not interested in talking, you’ll know it quickly and that’s ok. (I’ll shut up immediately if you want your quiet time, promise!!) I’m not talking about strange strangers or scary strangers. I’m talking about somebody sitting next to you in an airplane, train, bus, parkbench, boat… If it didn’t work out the first time, don’t give up, just start communicating again the next time you feel like you want to say something to that other person…and you’ll never know what’s in it for you, for them, for the good vibes of the world.

I didn’t keep contact with the whole crew but one pilot and Ken connected fully and he always let us know when he’s in Switzerland again. We met a few more times until he wasn't on Switzerland shift anymore.

“People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” Do you know this sentence of a poem by Brian A. “Drew” Chalker? I loooove it.

This crew came into my life for the reason of having a great time, connecting, making some Swiss back-stage memories and then moving on. Gian, my bestie in Tokyo, the godfather of Mika and Ken's best friend too, he’s in for a lifetime. So I invite you to ponder a bit over the people in your life? Who are you most grateful for (hint, hint, it should be YOU) besides you? Who do you want to spend more time with? Who could you call tomorrow? Text? Bring a lasagne to their door? What are your intentions about starting a conversation with a stranger who could become your friend?

I’m looking forward a lot to your wonderful stories. Please tell me about them.

Let’s make this world a more colorful, playful and joyful place!

Sending you lots of love from Zurich. Tuning in my life here. It’s spring. It’s good to be alive and here in this present moment!


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