Chris Hadfield is someone who inspires. He always comes across as humble, personable and down to earth (ha!). Hadfield is the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station and he spent five months orbiting the earth in 2013. I avidly followed his adventures from space on social media and looked forward to the remarkable photos of Earth he would tweet from the ISS.
While he was in space he took the time to interact with his fans, shoot a music video, and took part in talks with school children across Canada, something I really admired and appreciated. He is somebody to emulate and someone kids can and should look up too. He is a true Canadian hero.
On December 7th he was doing a book signing at an Indigo in Milton, Ontario – his hometown – as part of his global world tour. I asked my friend, also a fan, if she wanted to come with me in October. Before we knew it, it was the day of the event and we excitedly drove over to the bookstore, not exactly sure of what to expect. Hadfield has over a million followers on Twitter and way more around the world.
We stepped into the bookstore and it was packed with people. There was a huge line and I was slightly disappointed. I thought we came too late and wouldn’t get the chance to meet him. We walked to the front of the line and saw Hadfield was signing books and asked one of the employees where the line starts. Turns out the event was very well organized. The organizers divided event goers into different groups of 30 people and when the group was called they got to line up. We got group 20 and the line was currently at group seven – we had a long time to wait.
We had a coffee, walked around and finally sat to wait out the rest of the time. The announcer kept calling groups, my excitement started to wane around the group 15 mark. I was hungry and getting tired at this point. But finally, group 20 was called and we got up to wait in line.
When we were the third group in line to see Hadfield, my friend had a great idea to put on fake mustaches in Hadfield’s honour. At first I was hesitant and didn’t want to put the mustache on – I didn’t want to offend him! But I agreed and when it was our turn, Hadfield loved it! He shook all of our hands – he has a great handshake – asked me if we were from Milton (we’re not) and then he stood up and came around the table to take a picture with us. I had to try hard to maintain my excitement. I don’t think he got up for other groups so we were really excited.
In my head, I had so many questions I wanted to ask him and I really wanted to thank him for his time and everything he has done for his fans and his hard work but there wasn’t enough time. The Milton event started at 1 p.m. and we had our turn around 5 p.m. I did ask him how his wrist was doing (it was ‘alright’). When I was in the line I asked an employee if he had ate lunch and she said no – making my hunger feel not so bad.
After we got our books signed, we walked to the side and couldn’t get over what just happened. I felt over the moon. I met someone I really admired and he was so humble; he was so nice to us and made you feel like you were just like him. There was a little boy in the line in front of us and Hadfield talked to him for a bit which I thought was really sweet. We kept gushing for the whole ride home.
I have always been very fascinated with space but never considered it as a field of study. So to meet a real life astronaut and a really amazing person, shake his hand, get a bunch of photos and his book signed is something I will never forget.
Thank you Commander Hadfield, for your work, intelligence, kindness and your time, not only on your book tour but for all the time you had to devote to becoming an astronaut and for sharing your experience with so many fans who look up to you. You truly are remarkable.