My Mr. Mom week has officially ended. This morning I drove to Heathrow airport to pick up my wife from her Africa business trip. As a frequent business flyer for over 35 years (with millions of frequent flier miles) I am usually the one being dropped off, not the one picking up. So I had to learn a new routine – how early to leave home, which terminal, where to park. All mundane but important things, especially if you get one of them wrong.
I must confess I have a love – hate relationship with airports. Let me explain. There are really two vastly different cultures at an airport. The Departures “culture” and the Arrivals “culture”. Both can be accurately described a “scrums” (the word used to describe an event in Rugby when everyone converges on the ball in a writhing mass of arms and legs).
Let’s start with the Departure hall. This is the part of the airport I hate the most. People tend to be running late and therefore frantic, pushing others to get in line, short-tempered (that probably started at home and is just intensified at the airport), impolite, and in a general state of angst. Few are smiling. Quite a number of husband and wives are arguing over who forgot what, and loudly as well. The lines are long. The minimum wage security staff are either bored or aggressive. And no one likes disrobing in public and being prodded like cattle. (In my mind, the terrorists have succeeded in disrupting the world now that everyone, everywhere is subjected to the dreaded, and costly security process).
Being a hardened business traveller, I just go through the motions, put my emotions on standby, and visualise the end result, a quiet cup of coffee in the airline frequent flier lounge.
But the Arrivals culture and experience is just the opposite. I love going to the Arrivals hall. People are, on the whole, in a very good mood as they wait for their friends, loved-ones and family to come out through the big doors. It’s a happy culture. Strangers waiting actually talk to each other, asking who they are waiting for, eager to tell all about their arriving relatives. There are usually three or four groups with big homemade signs, most with big red hearts and “I Love You” written all over them. People cheer and cry, laugh and hug spontaneously. It’s a great, uplifting, positive experience. A happy scrum.
So, today I had a positive airport experience. Tomorrow I am dropped off at the Departure hall for a flight to Detroit and the other scrum begins. But for every departure, there is also an arrival. Something to look forward to.
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress