Anatomy of a traveler

I wish I could carry around a dodgeball and have it be socially acceptable to sling them at people when they are being goobers.

I would do this almost exclusively at airports.

I’m traveling this week for work as I have done a lot for the last year.  Spending time in airports really gives you a scary view of society.  The dodgeball idea would help keep people in check.  Hey lady-who-is-talking-way-too-loud-on-her-phone, whack!  Take that dodgeball with your Starbucks non-fat iced mocha diva drink.  Hey guy-who-is-always-surprised-to-see-someone-walking-in-the-bathroom-while-you-exit, thump!  Sidewalks go both ways, dude.

If you read my profound assessment of pick up basketball in yesterday’s blog, you might see how I enjoy categorizing and profiling people.  I quite enjoy people-watching and have observed many types of through my airport visits.  Here are a few.

Security Line Guy

Security Line Guy completely underestimates the number of bins or bowls he needs.  He tries to get everything in one bin until security starts helping him sort his items.  Security Line Guy has 6000 items in his pockets.  It’s like those scenes in movies where guys are peeling off all their guns, knives, rocket launchers, ammo, (dodgeballs?) and other weapons to make some huge pile.

Security Line Guy has a ‘George Costanza’ wallet with every receipt from this decade.  He has keys, glasses, a glasses case, a phone, a phone case, some chap stick, gum, antacids and to top it all off, he has $8 in change.  Who has $8 in change at 6:15 in the morning?  Who looks at the counter/basket/drawer/place where you keep things and says ‘Yep, I need to lug around approximately ALL of these coins today. I might need to use a phone booth for an extended amount of time.’

What’s worse than watching Security Line Guy get all this stuff out of his pockets?  Putting it back in.  While standing next to the far side of the conveyor belt.  In your way.

Mrs. Oblivous

airport_Obvilious

Ah, good ol’ Mrs. Oblivious.  She hasn’t been to an airport since the 80s.  She has no concept of how security works. “What do you mean, ‘Take my shoes off?'”  Mrs. O has to go through the metal detector 11 times because she left on her shawl, three necklaces, four bracelets, designer belt that rivals the size of a WWE championship belt and her hair tie (which isn’t even metal but takes it off ‘just in case’).

Mrs. Oblivious tries to board during each of the announcements, only to be told that she is in the last zone.  Then, she carries her over-sized beach bag on the plane and proceeds to have it slam in to every. single. seat. on the way down the aisle.  Somewhere between the gate and the plane, she loses all ability to understand numbers and letters and ends up sitting in your seat instead of hers. You end up switching seats to avoid a scene.  You might be picturing Mrs. Oblivious as an elderly woman.  That’s not necessarily the case.  The elderly have their own category.

The Oldtimer

airport_OldTimer

The Oldtimers have a pretty cool perk, they get to ride on the beep-beep cart.  I want to ride on the beep-beep cart!  The Oldtimers typically get to board separately from everyone else.  Additionally, they can look at you with their eight-decade-old puppy dog eyes while simultaneously letting out a sigh and looking at their bag and immediately you will help them put their bag in the overhead compartment.

The Oldtimer wants to talk to you during the entire flight.  They don’t care if you have your eyes closed or if you get to the magical 10,000-foot altitude when you can put your ear buds in.  They want to tell you exactly where they are going and who they are going to see.

The Professional

airport_Professional

Oooh, this guy is good.   He knows how to get through security efficiently and effectively.  His liquids are appropriately sorted and Zip-locked.  He knows the gate attendants by name.  He has Super-Duper-Elite Status and a Mega-Plutonium card (or whatever is after platinum) with all the airlines.  He also hasn’t been home for more than two consecutive weekdays since his Blackberry was trendy.  The Professional knows where all the lounges are.  He knows which concourse has the Tequileria and the least-trafficked Starbucks.  The Professional gets his shoes shined on layovers.

The Parent

airport_Parent

The Parent might be the most stressed out person at the airport.  The Parent usually outnumbered.  It could be a 1:2 mom-kid ratio or a 2:3 parent-kid ratio.  Typically, at least one child has to be carried.  There are toys all over.  One kid wanders off by himself every couple minutes.  Cheerios are at your feet.  You have compassion for this parent.

The Parent needs you to switch seats with them so they can sit with their child.  It took The Parent four minutes to walk halfway down the plane aisle because their child climbed on every seat or clung to every armrest on the way.  The Parent has to take someone to the potty before the seat belt sign goes off, or right after it comes back on.  The Parent triumphantly traverses across the country and doesn’t lose their cool, a kid or their bags.  You have respect for this parent.

The Group

As a member of The Group, you have to all be wearing the same t-shirt.  This is done for two reasons.  First, it’s so the Group Leader can find all members of The Group.  Second, it’s so you have a reason to be happy.  People at airports seem miserable all the time.  Except for people in The Group.  The Group is always going or coming from somewhere awesome.  They are with their friends.  They have no worries about delays because they are with people they like.  When The Group is happy, the rest of the airport travelers are not…because they envy the t-shirt wielding happy people.

The Group is loud.  They laugh.  They play UNO.  Their shirts have motivational catch phrases on them.  At least one person in The Group has a regular-sized bed pillow with them.  They have a lot of electronic devices.

Odds are, we have all been one or more of these people.  Everyone in these (slightly) exaggerated generalizations has an effect on the people around them.  Airports cause some of the most stressful times we encounter.  We know and understand this, but somehow we continue to operate as if we were the only ones in the airport.  We get frustrated at the person who stops right in the middle of the walkway and angry because it makes us move over a couple feet.  We think “don’t you know there are people walking here!”  But, really, we don’t even consider that the person might be completely lost and running out of time on a short layover to get home to see a sick relative.

We jockey for position while getting off the plane while we have a two-hour layover, but cut in front of the proud parent on their way to see their child graduate college.  We even put on ear buds to fake sleeping in order to avoid chatting with some old person who just wants to share their passion for life and their kindness with you.

Airports bring out the absolute worst in people…in me.

1 Peter 4:8 reminds us “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  As believers, we have to be different.  We have to show people that we’re not a stereotype.  That we aren’t hypocrites who profess Scripture that talks about love, patience and kindness, but exhibit none of those.

Here’s a fun game.  Instead of getting annoyed at the people described above and throwing out proverbial dodgeballs, Let’s start a new game.  Let’s see how many acts of kindness we can tally from one airport to the next.

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