A few years ago I went to London with some friends. Just entering the airport gave me the feeling of entering a whole new universe. There were busy people hopelessly trying to run with their too heavy bags to buy their tickets; tired people waiting for their relatives to appear any minute in some plane that was, invariably, late; sleepy kids making a huge effort to remain awake and angry mothers reading magazines just to pass the time; and us. The excited teenagers who wished for so long to go on a trip to one of the coolest cities ever, at least in our opinion. We had not slept much, but it was okay. We were way too excited to feel tired. In fact, some of us had never even been to an airport. The heavy bags didn’t bother us and the waiting didn’t bore us. The wanderlust had officially settled in.
So, after handling the check-in, we went to the metal detector: also very exciting, or not so much for our metalhead friend who wasted 30 minutes there, almost stripping completely. Off with his chains and boots and piercings; at some point he was barely left with his own identity. But it was fine. We were going to London.
For some of my friends, the first step onto the airplane was a remarkable moment. A huge step for them, an insignificant step for mankind. We sat, and eventually the most amazing meal ever came to us. I think none of us had ever had such a wonderful piece of dry chicken with green potatoes and some sort of weird flavored Coke. Again, all was fine.
Pretty much everyone fell asleep while in the air. I didn’t. I like to observe. All was fascinating, even the most ordinary things. The old woman writing poems in her pink notebook, laughing with herself; the guy filling his white bag with his recently ingested lunch; the nerd octopus using his eight hands to deal with his 60 computers, nine iPods, 27 cell phones (all of which should have been turned off); the kid sleeping and drooling all over her mom’s legs, and the mom reading her book and completely unaware of the wetness going on.
Soon we were in London, dealing with the mess of luggage. A friend of mine even started running after what he thought was his black suitcase, grabbed it and almost took it with him, had it not been for the angry Indian guy who began to scream for his luggage. Embarrassed, my friend looked up and saw the sign: “India - London.” We still laugh at him sometimes.
In the arrival gates of the airport, I also remember witnessing numerous love demonstrations. They are always there—fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends—the usual mess that we were glad to be a part of.
Looking back now, I realize that nothing unique happened. Just normal happenings in airplanes and airports. But I like to observe. I like it more than I like talking—I’m not much of a talkative person. And being stuck inside the same place with the same people for hours is the perfect scenario for observing their behaviors.