My first jelly theory of the new year is that if you want to learn the most about someone in the shortest amount of time, you should sit next to him/her during a long-distance airplane ride. Why? In a window of 10 hours (flying from San Francisco to Beijing for example, on right), you see the stranger next to you:
1. eat airplane food 2. play 3. work 4. sleep unabashedly with mouth open 5. excuse him/herself to the restroom if s/he isn't in the aisle seat 6. respond to turbulence
During my flight home from Beijing a week ago, I was sitting in the window seat, with my sister and another young woman to the right of me: window, me, sister, woman, aisle. When the turbulence hit, the three of us had just been served our beverages. The woman's entire cup of water flung onto the flight attendant's face; my sister's orange juice splashed on top of the balding head in front of her; and my soda ended up on my new shoes. I suddenly remembered an old college physics problem: when you walk with a cup of coffee (diameter 8 cm) at the pace of one step per second, the coffee sloshes until it eventually spills over the top. Estimate the speed of the waves in the coffee. (Any takers?)
When the plane regained its steadiness, everyone was still in shock and silent. My sister and I looked at each other and lost it in can-you-believe-that-just-happened laughter. The woman next to us was muttering, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh," which was surprising because up until then she hadn't spoken a word of English. Which got me thinking.
The thing about turbulence - inside an airplane, economic/financial, political, or personal - is that it doesn't take long for a response to come out, and once it does, it's illuminating.
Hello, my name is Jessica Lee or Jelly in some circles. Jelly has been my nickname since college (say J. Lee really fast!). This blog has now become a place for my monthly interview series, where creative individuals define entrepreneurship. You can find me on a more personal, day-to-day basis at my Tumblog: jessicalee.tumblr.com. Grab some peanut butter, and enjoy.