Stuck in the Airport

I was stuck for hours at the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport due to bad weather on my way back from the Bahamas recently (better than being stuck on the way to the Bahamas though, right?).  In between the time my husband’s plane to Missouri departed and my plane to California departed (long story; I’ll save that for another time), I did some serious people watching.  After a very short while, I noticed a distinctive pattern that was repeated almost without exception.

Everyone up to about five years old was sleeping (it was pretty late at night by this time).  Yay.

Everyone five to ten or eleven years old was either whining or otherwise tormenting a parent/sibling/stranger.

Everyone going through puberty was slumped in a chair scowling.

Everyone postpuberty to parenthood was staring intently at some device held in their lap, most often a phone, usually with earphones in their ears, frequently with thumbs moving at the speed of light over a tiny keyboard.

One of the parents of the sleeping 0-5 year olds was sleeping, or trying to, while the other was doing something on a device, usually tablet of some kind, most often playing solitaire or Words with Friends or some other game that can be easily set aside when Junior wakes up and demands immediate attention.

The parents of the whining and otherwise tormenting prepubescents were drinking triple shot somethings from Starbucks and playing tag-team disciplinarian.

The parents of the pubescents were slumped in their chairs, scowling.

Then there were The Rest.  The Older Generation.  By that I mean, sadly, people my age, in our 50’s and older, who have smart phones but use them mostly to make calls.  Whose other “devices,” if we have them, are Kindles or Nooks or other eReaders. 

Most of The Rest were reading something – an eReader, a magazine, or – honest to goodness – a book

Or talking.  You know, that thing people do where their mouths move and words come out? 

This was especially true among the oldest of the travelers I saw.  Old men and women, gray haired and wrinkled and stooped and beautiful, often holding hands that trembled just a little, sitting there probably very tired, but oh so dignified, talking in quiet, reserved tones to one another, smiling at something the other said.  Talking with that sweet intimacy long lives together produces, that knowledge of each other that allows you to finish each other’s sentences. 

I hope when I am old and traveling with my husband, he will have one hand on a cane and the other on mine, and we will be talking, and neither of us will have in our laps any kind of distracting device. Because even in this age of technology, I still think the best form of communication is the voice of someone you love in your ear.

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4 Responses to Stuck in the Airport

  1. Kim says:

    Interesting observations! People watching can be so much fun at times, especially in places where people are more likely to be bored, frustrated or downright ticked off. The airport is definitely a good place.

    Knowing me I’d have my phone in my hand and would be fiddling around on Facebook, checking my email or looking for something to read. Now that I have a Kindle I might even read. My husband and I (at 32 and 45 respectively) do talk, but after a long day we tend to just sit there and not say a word. Both of us are the types that don’t function well when tired and can barely string together a coherent sentence.

    • Susan says:

      People are pretty fascinating. There was one group of kids, probably 14-16 years old, five or six of them, all sitting around texting, and I swear they were texting each other. Honest story. 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  2. Joy Lenton says:

    Isn’t people-watching fascinating? I love your observations. So true. As one of The Rest I am a Kindle/book reader first and foremost and really want to be the couple you mentioned where language supercedes gadgets and mutual understanding and empathy reign. There’s no real substitute for talking together, whether we communicate through a hug, squeeeze, tired smiles or loving words.

    • Susan says:

      I agree, Joy. I’m a Nook reader myself, along with a pile o’ magazines (which I could get on the Nook but for whatever reason I prefer hard copy mags). But good conversation trumps everything in my mind. Thanks for coming by!

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