Real Talk

People-Watching at the Airport

September 22, 2015

It might be strange, but I love going to the airport.
 

To be specific, I love going to the airport by myself, for two reasons. The first is because it is indisputably one of the best locations to people-watch, and people-watching is one of my all-time favorite activities. If you’re not into people-watching, then you’re missin’ out on alllll the free fun. Creepy? Maybe. But so worth the entertainment. The other reason I love the airport so much? Pure, mental alone time.

If you haven’t already guessed, I am currently at the airport. Getting here, as usual, was a struggle. My packing process is completely ridiculous. I’m a notorious overpacker – always have been and probably always will be. It takes me forever because I know that I always pack too much, so I second-guess all my decisions while trying to pack only the necessities. Basically, trying to pack lightly makes the whole thing take longer than just packing everything in my closet. Total fail, every time. I have a really difficult time making trivial decisions. Should I bring my Nordstrom black tank in a small or a medium? Nordstrom black tank or Forever 21 black tank? What about my H&M black tank? What if I get one dirty and need the other one? What if I want slightly thicker straps, or the feeling of this material? Better bring them all.

These are my daily struggles.


“The process” turned into a mountain of clothes on my roommate’s bed (sorry, girl!) that could’ve easily housed a few small animals. It was just out of control. We won’t even talk about how I pack toiletries and makeup. I act like these objects have feelings and can’t be left behind.

3 decades later, after a nice workout carrying my bags around, I arrived at LAX. Aaaaand shocker — flight’s delayed! Happens every single time. Buuuut I secretly love it. I know it’s twisted thinking, but delayed flights force me to have some “free time.” That’s so sad. While waiting for my flight, the Internet is usually so slow that it ends up being less frustrating to avoid WiFi than it is to spend time trying to connect to it, so that’s what I try to do. I usually (*gasp*) read a book, creepily observe my fellow travelers, or just think. Forced free time is also why I love actually being on an airplane. I have no choice but to live without WiFi for an hour, and that’s good for me. It’s good for everyone to unplug and face their own scary thoughts every once in awhile. We’re all waaaay too attached to our phones, in my opinion. And I think we could all use a second to stop and just be in our own heads, totally disconnected from the crazy world outside.

Even though delayed flights are annoying, the longer than average people-watching time it allows for is a definite advantage. To wrap up, here are some exciting things I noticed at LAX today:

  1. The bathrooms smell very strongly of artificial grape flavor, and it’s oddly soothing.
  2. The Starbucks line is so aggressive. A total beast, but understandably so. When you gotta have coffee, you just gotta have it.
  3. Families in matching shirts are so cute and corny-movie-esque. I’m currently seated across from a cute family of four, dressed in matching Disneyland T-shirts commemorating the Diamond Celebration (ugh, LOVE IT!). They’re all eating Pinkberry, happy as clams. What a cute family vacay!
  4. The fight to sit next to the phone charging stations is epic. I simply walked by the charging station on my way to the bathroom and received at least 7 intense death glares.
  5. Seating etiquette at the airport: It’s always optimal and expected that you choose a seat with at least one empty seat between you and the person next to you, but sometimes it just can’t happen. When you have to take the seat directly next to someone, for some reason the person usually acts like you just peed on claimed territory.
  6. There are way too many quarrels with the employees at the gate about delayed flights happening right now. Sorry buddy, but she can’t make the plane get here any faster.
  7. Eavesdropping on really intense business calls is very interesting to me. If you’re at the airport in a suit with a prototypical, classy black carry-on briefcase, iPhone glued to your ear as you discuss market prices in an urgent, serious tone, you must be important.
  8. The Cal Poly football team is sprinkled throughout the airport right now. They’re hard to miss, decked out in all-green sweatsuits. I’m enjoying watching young children stare at them in awe.
  9. I feel so bad for mothers at airports. As if it’s not enough trying to care for a baby in the first place, moms are always victims of the wrath of surrounding travelers who can’t handle a squeaking baby. She’s doing her best! P.S. The baby next to me is too cute and I just want to squish her cheeks!
  10. Airports create weird, short friendships. There’s something about sitting next to someone at the airport or on the plane that creates an unspoken bond between people. For example, I asked the man sitting next to me which plane was boarding. He told me, and asked where I was headed. We sat in silence for about 25 minutes. When he got up to board his flight, he turned to me, nodded, and said “Have a safe trip.” I wished him the same. It was as though our short, meaningless interaction somehow created an inexplicable friendship over the common ground of traveling. Kinda like we’re all in this together. (That was not a High School Musical reference! Or was it?! )
  11. There’s always shameless, awkward flirting at airports between random, single adults who haven’t had success on Tinder or Match.com yet. Can’t help but chuckle when I see it. Awkward flirtation is the best to observe, so watch out.

About to board — wish me luck! (And by luck, I mean hope that I sit next to a wise old lady who will offer me sage wisdom and change my life for the better.)

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