Airports. Airports. Airports.
Last night, my flight to Atlanta got cancelled. I left for the airport at about 3.30pm and the flight was confirmed cancelled at 9pm.
Thanks to the technology we all take for granted, I managed to get on another flight today, so went home overnight
[and surprised the kids when I woke them up this morning – what a joy!]
Before I’d left for the airport yesterday, it had been Kyra’s birthday party and, coupled to the jet-lag of the past week of flu-season chéz nous, I’d been tired and more than a little loved up. As a result, I’d maintained a zen-like peace throughout the trials and travails of the flight being cancelled.
An easy morning this morning, leaving for the airport at about 10am. I’ve got my seat assignment. I’m all set. And pretty calm and tranquil given circumstances
[I’m going to miss most of the first day’s programme of the 3-day conference, but it’s unavoidable – so sunk time/cost]
But. Floating through this all-too-familiar sequence of events, I was very aware of others’ energy.
Walking form check-in to security, I got behind an old couple, her carrying the bags, him his walking stick. They moved at glacial pace and, though I walk fast, I contented myself with strolling behind these two and watching them. He had to stop every so often to lean on the posts supporting the fabric lane markers. When they got to the security, the entry guard noted his walking stick and told them that
“…wheelchairs are cool… And they get you to the head of the line directly too!”
The old guy harrumphed that he wasn’t going to use no wheelchair – this despite the fact it had taken him 3 or 4 times as long to cover the 20 yards of the security line as other people. His wife gave him one of those looks – long suffering, patient, full of love – and they went to get their ID/boarding passes checked. I followed them and, as they moved on to the screening area, a wheelchair zoomed past and went straight through the checks, bypassing the lines. Oh, and didn’t she give him an earful about his pride and refusal to use a wheelchair!
But by this time, I was in a different screening line, behind a second old couple. Once again, she was doing all the work and keeping him under control. They de-shoed, de-bagged and made for the metal scanner. She went through without issue, but he triggered the alarm. When he came back, the guard chatted with him and it was pretty clear that he wasn’t putting two and two together. She asked him if he had anything in his pockets. He did: car keys
[why this guy is still allowed to drive, I don’t know]
nail clippers and a swiss army knife. There followed a couple of minutes discussion with him that he couldn’t take the knife through security. He didn’t quite understand. Eventually, he got the message that he could take the knife back to his car or surrender it to the US government. His wife gave him one of those looks – long suffering, patient, full of love – and told him to forget the knife. He went through the metal detector without issue and I followed.
Only to find them getting reassembled at the point where the bins came out of the scanner – not even rolling them down to the end to make some room. I stared at my bag, lap-top, shoes, belt and sweater in their bins behind the metal grille, knowing that there was nothing I could do until the old couple were done. Eventually, they were and we were on our way.
At the gate, I got my seat assignment and settled for the flight to board.
Except this guy just behind me decided to have a schmoozy business call
[he wouldn’t have got my business]
in a deep, gravelly voice far too full of assertiveness and opinion. Selling to a woman – I didn’t need to hear her end of the conversation to be able to read it in his linguistic pattern.
With my soundscape polluted by this guy, now along came an older woman who at two seats away from me. She was flustering; a real energy ball. She sat, breathed deep and said to herself, “de-stress, de-stress, de-stress”. Only she didn’t. She decided to radiate her stress to everyone around her, unable to contain it unless shared. She chased some guy through three phone numbers and eventually got him. Listening to this succession of missed calls, I felt sure she was going to be dealing with something like rescheduling – another casualty from my missed flight the night before. But she wasn’t, she just wanted to tell him that she had got through security. That done, she sat being stressed for no discernible reason.
I moved to a different part of the lounge.
Where I sit now, typing into my laptop, watching the world go by.
Wondering how far I’ve come in the past year that not one of these situations got me frustrated, that I managed to not only stay in observer mode, but feel a warmth and connection to each of these fellow travellers.
Maybe it’s because we’re all just passing through.
Or maybe it’s just airports.