Sit, breathe, observe
I ARRIVED at the airport early and this gave me time to get a cup of tea and take up a prime people-watching position. There was a lot to see.
First up a solid woman with dreadlocks piled high above her heavily-pierced face walked past. On her back, between her shoulder blades, was the name KANYE, three-inches high in elaborate Gothic script. A striking level of commitment, I thought, hope she stays in love with him.
She was followed by a woman in the tightest of tight, stretchy frocks, perilously high heels, impressive cleavage finished off with a goodly array of bling and a slash of crimson lipstick. This enchanting temptress clip-clopped smartly along in front of the eating area. Although nothing happened, I swear there was a pause in the chatter as she sashayed elegantly by.
Three handsome young men came past. They exuded energy and health. Their beards were manscaped, their cuffs were rolled on their tight pants, their flannelette shirts revealed T-shirts with slogans that said Irony is the Opposite of Wrinkly, Drunk Lives Matter and Stop Looking at My Shirt. How very droll. Young women sauntered along in teeny tiny shorts, couples in top-of-the-line hiking gear marched in a manner that brooked No Nonsense, Thank You Very Much.
Families came past loaded down with stuff, stuff and more stuff. I particularly admired the child carrying a GIANT bright yellow Tweety Bird cushion. I made a mental note to make sure I gave one to my granddaughter. She would love it, I thought. Perfect for that family long-haul trip to Patagonia.
The temptress came clip-clopping back on another circuit, but the crowd had seen her now and no eyebrows were raised as her finely-etched buttocks swung down the airport.
I went into a shop. Here I found a young woman walking and talking loudly on her phone. Everyone in the store was included in the conversation about the importance of some meeting. She was utterly oblivious of her surroundings. I caught her eye and mimed turning the volume down. She looked annoyed and went out of the shop, leaving the browsers and shop assistants in peace. Phew, I thought to myself, then I bet I end up sitting next her on the plane.
Everywhere people were on phones or reading. All were minding their own business. Travelling is a gigantic act of cooperation with a bunch of complete strangers.
It's amazing when you think about it. All of us want to get where we are going safely and with minimum fuss. The good, the bad and the ugly - we are all there jammed together and negotiating the zones and the gate-keepers.
Stories of inflight bad behaviour abound. The combination of alcohol, strangers, crying babies and exuberant holiday-makers all in confined place can be a potent mix, but my flight was chatty, full of babies, kids and ever-so-friendly flight attendants. I was happy. I was going home. I was in that blessed place where it is possible to step off the world of responsibility and obligation and, for a moment, to feel free and simply sit, breathe and observe.