Wednesday 10 September 2008


on the topic of forced rest time

I actually like waiting for someone at the airport. Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that this only happens once in a while, when I do so I've got my trusty macbook with me, and that I'm not all that eternally busy that I can't spare some time to sit at a coffee shop with wireless.

Not that I do much work, or read all that much, or have a positive contribution to give the world while I'm sitting here. I actually spend most of the time just enjoying people going to and fro or milling about while waiting, like me, for someone else. The coffee shop I'm sitting in has about 32 tables, and it's directly in front of the arrival gate. There are 12 people here, all of them sitting the same way, having a dring, chatting on the phone or just waiting with a bit of a blank stare.

And I'm talking about a mildly peripheral airport like the Lisbon one, which I bet doesn't have one tenth of the cultural cross section of a Heathrow, or an LAX. On the other hand, because it's a smallish one, I can sit at the coffee shop and view most of the arrivals, and it doesn't sound hectic or too crowded. It's just a bunch of people. Waiting.

And you can play a small game, while waiting. Try to think of all these people, every single one of them, as an distinct individual, not just "people". With needs, thoughts, desires, passions, pains and hungers. All of them have a single shared purpose here, but that can be the only thing that they have in common. Imagine the diversity. The blonde lady, dressed in a white short sleeve which passes you? Is she coming or going? Where to? The couple (or so you assume, it's a man and a woman, they could be brothers, or just friends) with the large backpacks. Travelling the world, vacations or volunteer work? The black family, waiting for a relative? Perhaps a son, gone abroad to meet some friends. Of course, the suit, lugging his laptop luggage, blackberry on hand talking and looking just a bit lost, almost (just almost) looking like it's the first time he's here.

And then it starts thinning out. More people are leaving than arriving. There are less flights. And now it's my turn to go. My charge has arrived.

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