Linda Stamper Boyne: Look at all those people flying by
Vail, CO, Colorado
Of all the ways to entertain one’s self, people watching is my favorite.
The airport is particularly fertile ground for this activity. It’s a never-ending parade of amusement. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, something else fabulous comes walking by.
There are just people of all different shapes and sizes and races and ages and colors and hairstyles and manners of dress. It’s a combination of the United Nations and a mall. It’s fascinating.
There are the little pods of airline personnel marching from gate to gate, uniformed and efficiently packed in their matching bags. And the techno-traveler, cell phone glued to hand, Bluetooth in ear, noise-canceling headphones hanging around the neck, laptop, Kindle and iPod in a bag slung across the body.
Then there’s the business traveler, suited up, serious and preoccupied, walking with purpose through the concourse. My favorite was a guy powering his way through the throngs, Bluetooth in ear, yelling and gesturing at some poor underling who had just screwed up a deal. From my vantage, I couldn’t see his earpiece and he looked like a lunatic screaming at imaginary people.
And the frequent traveler who has the whole thing down to an art. She’s wearing a stylish but comfortable outfit with shoes that can easily be slipped off at security but will still allow her to sprint through the airport if need be. She pulls the perfectly-sized rolling carry-on, with a coordinating “personal item” holding all the essentials in non-bulky form: book, iPod, phone, laptop, wallet, water bottle, snacks, Purell and sanitizing wipes, travel-sized moisturizers for various potentially dry parts and a pashmina peaking out, just in case she should catch a chill on a flight.
I get a kick out of the Savvy Traveler, utilizing the tip from his favorite travel Web site to wear all his bulkiest items instead of packing them. So he’s clomping through the airport in snow boots, ski jacket and the Norwegian sweater that screams, “I wear a suit every day and now I’m on a ski vacation in Colorado.”
I have nerve-jangling flashbacks when I see the first-time parents schlepping with piles of gear for the beloved baby. Stroller, car seat, bag stuffed with snacks, change of clothes, blankets, water bottle, diapers, wipes, medications to take care of any ailment imaginable and enough toys and books to keep the prodigal child entertained from point A to pretty much anywhere in the world.
I watch as people get caught behind the big groups of travelers in matching brightly-colored T-shirts that announce who they are with some ultra-clever phrase, “Johnson Family Reunion — just a bunch of nuts on the family tree.”
I really don’t know what to make of the disheveled guy who’s sporting sweat pants, T-shirt and baseball cap, all with the same team logo, all of which were clearly not purchased in this millennium. There’s dressing for comfort and then there’s “Good God! Did you even brush your teeth when you rolled out of bed to come to the airport?”
As I sit at and watch all this go by, I have a running commentary of observations going through my head. “Great shoes.” “Well, that’s an interesting place to have a piercing.” “Wow, I haven’t seen a fanny pack in years.” “Hold still so I can finish reading that tattoo.” “Lord, I’m glad my boys are past that stage.”
But it’s very easy to slip from purely observational to judgmental. We all judge others from time to time, whether we realize we’re doing it or not. Being judgmental keeps us very small-minded, forces people into our definition of right and wrong, disallows individuality, keeps us from accepting people for who they are. It’s very limiting.
Who am I to cast others in my mold? Do I really want to judge the depth of someone’s character based solely on the shoes they’re wearing? For all I know, Mother Theresa wore Crocs.
The whole scene reminds me that as different as we are, we’re all the same. We’re all just making our way through life, living, breathing, loving, working, traveling, doing our own thing. And thank God we’re not all the same. How boring would that be?
Linda Stamper Boyne, of Edwards, can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org.