Subtitled, The People We Meet on Airplanes.
Those who know me are aware that I travel for business. Not as much as I used to, but still more than I’m quite comfortable with. Until the day comes when I can be teleported to a business meeting location with spinning wheels and Westies in tow, I’d prefer to bloom where I’m planted, thank you very much. However, sometimes, like this week, circumstances arise where try as I might, I can’t quite duck the travel. As much as I dislike it, for all the hassle of TSA and airplanes and waiting and such, I can’t quite bring myself to say no to the trip, and I certainly could never fake being sick just to stay home (even if the occasional desire to do so might strike in the night before a flight).
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I’m afraid of flying. I’ve flown so many flights at this point that we could land on two wheels on the pitching deck of an aircraft carrier and all I would do is say “Hmm, that was bumpy” before turning back to my book.
I think it’s actually the comfort of home that I miss when I travel; that feeling of familiarity when I sink into the sofa and especially when a dog deigns to grace my lap with their terrier presence. Not only that, the whole process of getting from one part of the country to the other is just darned inconvenient. Which leads me to today’s topic, which is the process of getting here (in this case, Detroit) from there (in this case, Denver).
I know the drill. In fact, I’m so practiced at the security procedures that even the TSA people are impressed. No liquids, no laptop, nothing in my pockets. I arrive, line up with the rest of the cattle headed for the chute, and follow the process.
It’s when you get past the gate that it gets interesting. You see, airports are kind of anonymous places. In some ways belonging to everyone and no-one at the same time, and filled to the brim with our fellow man (or woman).
As we proceed through the airport, I notice myself assigning people to types: families on vacation, older people traveling to see family, business people like myself. Then, if I get a chance without being too overt, I watch their behavior and use that to further build my profile.
All of which, today, left me wondering what kind of profile others built about me based on my behavior in the airport and on the airplane. I cleared quickly through the airport, headed straight to my gate, so clearly aware of the procedures that you might suspect I was a business traveler even though I wasn’t dressed as such.
At the gate, I pulled out a Bible to read the book of Luke. So now, I’m wondering, are these people thinking I’m a pastor, a middle-aged church lady, or a religious fanatic? (In reality, I’m a time-stretched volunteer trying to get ready for a Christmas program, but that’s beside the point). Once on board, I took a nap, drank some coffee, and kitchenered a hand-knitted sock.
At the end of the voyage, I’m remarking at the little snippets of myself that I’ve revealed to my cabin-mates: a caffeinated, Bible-reading, hand-knitting who? And realizing, that we have all these little encounters with people. We think we know who they are and we further think that we can place them into categories. Yet in reality, we are incredibly complex beings with many facets to our real selves.
Interesting thought, at least for me today. Who are you taking for granted, thinking that you ‘know’ them based on the superficial evidence of what they do around you? Dig a little deeper. It’ll be interesting to see what you find.