I’m en route to Tampa, of all places, for some
beach and sun hotel conference room and air conditioning (work conference).
I think airports and airplanes are the best people-watching venues, hands-down. Not only do you have the chance to watch people walk by and observe their superficial characteristics, you also witness how they treat others, how they react under stress, how they behave when they’re tired.
I watch a well-heeled older couple holding hands as they strolled through the terminal, just ahead of two younger women dressed basically in pajamas with earphones in.
I watch people walking in a straight line on the right-hand side of the hallway and people standing in the middle gaping at the signage.
I watch people sitting with all their belongings in front of them so as not to take up a lot of space and people who lounge over multiple seats with shoes and socks off, their bare feet on display.
I watch people queue up in their designated group lines and people who slip into the middle as soon as the line starts moving.
I watch people hold the lavatory door open so the next person can squeeze through and people who stand in the middle of the aisle and act surprised when someone needs to pass by.
I watch people say please and thank you to the flight attendants and people who press the call button multiple times for beverage and trash service.
I watch people play with the baby in the row ahead of them and people who roll their eyes when the baby starts crying.
I watch people hang on the seat in front of them as they get in and out of their own seat and people who barely move the air as they move around.
I watch people say excuse me when they invariably encroach upon the personal space of another on a small plane and people who pretend it didn’t happen.
I see people say “it’s ok” and smile when they’re encroached upon and people who act like they were bumped into on purpose.
I watch people having good days and bad days as they move from point A to point B, all doing it in a slightly different way that makes complete sense in their world but almost zero sense in anyone else’s.
With this overlapping and sometimes conflicting logic, it’s a wonder we get anywhere at all. And yet, in 20 minutes, I will be thousands of miles from home after a trip that took just a few hours.