Like Annie Jacobsen, I recently took a long Northwest Airlines flight, #53 from Amsterdam to Detroit, on which I observed several Middle Eastern passengers. Including one who sat down immediately next to me! Blocking my access to the aisle! Who then began reading a book full of Arabic! And looking nervously around the plane! Oh my god, oh my god, help me, we're all going to DIE! EEAHEEAHEEAHEEAHEEAH!
As I girded my metaphorical loins in anticipation of poisoning my seatmate to death with the remains of my so-called "chicken" "dinner", she turns to me and asks where I'm from. Turns out she was flying to Nashville, my hometown, where she is a nursing student and her husband a mechanical engineer, after a two-month visit to her family in Tehran. We had a lovely chat about living in the South, and the current troubles in Iraq. She showed me several pictures of her family at various gatherings (a birthday party, her cousin's engagement), including several fascinating pictures of the ruins at Persepolis. We landed in Detroit without indicent and wished each other well.
However, when I went to claim my luggage in Detroit en route to customs, it never appeared! Apparently my bag was stuck in Amsterdam, or perhaps Vienna!! Coincidence? I think not!!!
(Rabid conspiracy-mongers have suggested that perhaps my bag was still in the Frankfurt Flughafenbahnhof, but such theories, which cast undue aspersions on the honesty and efficiency of the German people, are striclty without credence.)