Airport Observations

Would you be flattered if you knew I was sitting here at my gate sipping my morning latte munching on a cheddar bagel and writing about my encounter with you? Maybe, you seemed pretty self-absorbed to me.

The barista and I exchanged bemused glances more than once while I tried to place my order and she struggled to hear what I was saying over your louder, more-entitled voice, the order taking complicated further by the fact that you stood in the middle of an area meant to accommodate two people ordering coffee.

When the poor barista asked you again if you wanted cream cheese with your bagel you didn’t register what she said and assumed she was questioning your order. True, her voice was quieter than your arrogant bellow but it was the same volume most others in the coffee shop used.

“Two bagels,” you repeated, louder this time and holding up two fingers. “Give me two.”

I glanced over at you once, willing my glare to penetrate and to bring you to awareness of your own rudeness. But no, I should have known you were too self-focused to sense that you were penetrating not only another person’s physical space but also the atmosphere in general.

I admired the customer-focused barista as she continued to smile at you and asked how your day was going so far. She must ask the same question of hundreds of travelers every day and every one must feel like she genuinely cares about their response. She likely doesn’t, but she has a gentle gift of seeming like she does.

“Oh great!” you bellowed. “Once I get through security I can relax.”

I wondered wryly what relaxation looks like for you as you nudged me reaching for your bagel.

Vanilla latte in hand, cheddar bagel tucked in my bag, I leave the coffee shop and head toward my gate. I hope you’re not on my flight. Worse, I hope you’re not my seat mate.

Later, settled in a seat at the gate I sigh and look around. I’ve come to appreciate the experience of air travel. I’ve been fortunate to not have accumulated many travel horror stories. For the most part, when I travel alone I enjoy the opportunity to be by myself in a crowd of people. It’s a chance to exercise my imagination and to speculate on circumstances.

I see an older woman sitting alone in the priority seating area and imagine she is traveling to spend a weekend with an old friend. Two dark-suited business travelers sit beside one another checking their respective smart phones; they’re on their way to close the deal I bet. A woman sits reading, her face gentle and relaxed. A gentleman sitting next to her carries the stress for both of them in his face as his worried eyes dart back and forth.

Me, I’m just documenting my morning as I wait. In a few hours I’ll be in a winter wonderland and a little red haired girl will come running toward me exclaiming “Grandma!”

Life is good. I am blessed.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. Insightful reflection, Linda. I too like to be the observer in airports which I seem to frequent lately because of family concerns.

    I was wondering what all the detail was leading up to, and then I read: “I’ll be in a winter wonderland and a little red haired girl will come running toward me exclaiming “Grandma!” It all made perfect sense. At this moment, you are probably being adored by that cute little red head.

    1. Sorry to hear about your family concerns, Marian. I hope everything works out.

  2. The airport is a great place for people watching!

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