Thursday, July 15, 2010

Airport Camaraderie

I don't care for airports. By and large, I've found that they bring out the worst in people. To start with, you're pulling from a segment of the population that has a well-developed sense of entitlement. These are Big, Important People, with Big Important Places to Go and Things to Do. Airports take these people, process them assembly-line style through security, shuffle them into a holding area with crowded, uncomfortable seating, and then tell them that their flight is going to be late because of a thunderstorm, a broken part, a delayed flight crew, or because that's just the way the cookie crumbles. And no amount of self-importance can change that.

Hooo boy, that rarely goes over well. I've found airports to be permeated with a thick tension in the air, with everybody right on the verge of snapping. All it takes is a single catalyst to set off a nasty reaction.

On my way home from New York to Denver, there were more than a few catalysts. Nasty weather all along the east coast left travel a mess for many airports, including Newark, my point of departure. Flights were being delayed or outright canceled right and left, and folks were finding their travel plans effected by more than just a slight hiccup.

But shockingly, these repeated obstacles weren't met with hostility. The mood at gates B41-B48 was one of patient humor. Stranded travelers cracked jokes, helped one another with working around delays, even shared phone chargers. None of us were thrilled to be faced with the circumstances, but it was collectively recognized that a foul mood wasn't going to change anything. And so we banded together, and stuck it out with humor. After dozens upon dozens of flights over the course of my lifetime, it was the first truly pleasant and inspiring airport experience that I've ever had. So thank you, fellow travelers through Newark. It sure coulda been worse.

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