To J, airports are magical places. Like an alternate reality within but unattached to the external world. A place where time seems to stand still. Where people seem to hurry past; oblivious, while J sits and observes. To her, the time spent in an airport is disjointed from the rest of her life.
J loves airports. She will blithely ditch a direct flight to her destination in favour of a more circuitous trip. Lay overs to J are not an annoying inconvenience of air travel; they are opportunities to study and marvel at different airports.
The squeaky trolleys, the spiffy ticket agents, the colourful baggage tags, the shiny floors, the neat rest- rooms, the swanky stores, the re-heated food, the myriad types of water dispensers, the sometimes quirky/plush, sometimes plain waiting chairs…… J loves them all.
(Of course, sometimes the trolleys are defective, the ticket agents cruddy and the floors begrimed. The rest-rooms may be stinky and stores over-priced. The food can often be lousy and the water-dispensers knackered. The chairs will numb your backside….)
J also loves the free wi-fi and the incoherent announcements…..She has even learnt to like the grumpy emigration /immigration officers….
But what she loves the most….are the PEOPLE….her FELLOW TRAVELLERS…..observing and studying them …..she has it down to a fine art…..
They essentially belong to the following ten classes….
- The Veteran– The seasoned traveller who has seen it all. Airports are no longer exciting and waiting in one is a chore. They are immune to the surroundings and will use all and any distraction/ gadget/ technology to while away the waiting period.
- The Newbie– The nervous but excited first-timer. He/she has entered the airport for the first- time and has stars in his/her eyes. Everything appears glossy and bewitching. He/she either wanders around with a glazed look or sits restlessly and drinks it all in.
- The Harried– Irrespective of the number of times one has been to the airport and no matter what their usual category is- one must be in possession of an infant/ toddler/ young child to fit into this group. The child is either crying, running up and down escalators, or using the chairs has an obstacle course, or the waiting halls as a one man race track….. This group spends their entire time chasing the aforementioned child with a gargantuan soft-toy in hand and a sheepish smile plastered on face. Is extremely tired and wants nothing more than the experience to be over with.
- The Workaholic– The type that hurries to find to a vacant spot. Park their behinds. Whip out a laptop and start typing furiously….. They can be further sub-classified into- the true type and the pseudo-type. The true type is an actual workaholic and is truly doing something productive. The pseudo/false category only wants to portray an appearance of being busy and important.
- The Stud/ Model– Usually a younger demographic. Appears in swish attire and is bedecked with fancy gadgetry. Struts around with a distinct air of snobbishness, and revels in attention garnered. May also spend considerable time evaluating the opposite sex.
- The Oldie– The title is not meant to be derogatory. So named to describe the usual age characteristic. An older group or travellers who are further classified into two types- The “newbie oldie” and the “veteran oldie”. The newbie here is anxious and nervous. Is probably travelling (air-travel) for the first time- most likely to visit children/ grand-children stated in the US/UK. Has been given countless instructions on airport nitty-gritty and/or tagged to another fellow passenger who is a stranger but is travelling on the same route. The veteran is at the other end of the spectrum. The common denominator being the age and the anxiety (mostly pertaining to their health and/or the duration of the journey).
- The Shopaholic– Spends a minimum of 80 percent of their overall waiting period in the duty free stores. Sub- typed into two further groups: the “true” type and the “wannabe”. The “true” type actually comes out with duty-free bags while the “wannabe” type desperately wants to do so but lacks the requisite dough.
- The Gastroholic– Self-explanatory title. Spends majority of the time stuffing their face with crummy but over-priced airport grub and drink- knowing all too well that food will be served on-board.
- The Bookworm– Is oblivious to the surroundings. Completely and utterly engrossed in his/her book/ iPad/ Kindle. Will locate the boarding gate early on, visit the loo and thereafter sit in the immediate vicinity of respective boarding gate. Then mentally disappear into the book until boarding time. A unique sub-category is called the “News-nerd”. This group will hound every newspaper/magazine in the immediate area and read it through before boarding.
- The Observer– The last and smallest category. Usually found seated in unobtrusive areas with a panoramic view of the proceedings. Watch over fellow beings in transit in minutiae. May portray signs belonging to any of the above groups as camouflage. J obviously belongs to this category..
Note- Some may be of a mixed type (having characteristics of two or more types), while some may be of one type for a brief period and then switch over to another category. Eg. J occasionally switches over to category no.9…
Please do let J know if there categories that she is yet to discover…. She wishes to keep her list updated….
Until next time…