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.