Summer. The time for travel to destinations far away from your humid, Midwest prison. For many, travel means airports. For those of you who have never been in an airport and prefer to do road trips that are days long, I wish you well. However, by forgoing the trip to the terminal, you are missing out on experiences you’ll remember the rest of your life; you are missing out on five people you won’t meet anywhere else.
1. The Rusher
This person is always ready to go and it only feels right to talk about them first. These are the people that will rush the gate as soon as they possibly can. Before the gate attendant arrives at the desk, this person has already queued up and is ready to board the plane, regardless of if the plane is actually at the gate or if the passengers of that plane have deplaned. They probably have the last boarding group but that doesn’t matter to them, because if they aren’t first in line they probably won’t get on the plane and their whole trip will be ruined. Chances are this person is also the first person up and out of their seats as soon as the plane wheels hit the runway as if they will be stuck in some sort of cyclical flight of hell if they aren’t the first to deplane.
2. The Crier
This next person is the one many of us may know from other environments: churches, malls, restaurants, perhaps even the movie theater. These people seem to be everywhere and they seem to be the loudest of the five people you’ll meet at the airport. You can spot them as soon as they approach your gate and a sense of impending doom overcomes your very being. They might be in a stroller or a leash (yikes) or maybe roaming free. They’re calm now but when you’ve reached cruising altitude there’s no escaping. It’s almost as if they know no one on that giant metal tube in the sky can go anywhere and they wait to unleash their deepest emotions in the form of tears, kicking and screaming. Adults can be very emotional sometimes.
3. The Runner
Not to be confused with The Rusher, this next person is perpetually late, whether that be their own doing or caused by things out of their control. You can find them sprinting to their gates to make their flights. Their high speed suitcases and duffel bags wipe out small children left and right. They use the people-moving conveyor belts as a launch pad, sprinting down them at maximum speeds and taking off through the remaining gates of the terminal. They don’t sweat anymore and they have a lung capacity to rival the most decorated athletes. When you hear them coming, your flight instinct will kick in and you will dive out of their way. These people are brutal and will stop at nothing to make a flight.
4. The Roadblock
The name of this next person says it all. They are constantly in your way and they seem to be able to predict the path you need to travel with amazing accuracy. They’ll leave their luggage in the aisles of gate seating, preventing people from being able to comfortably sit down while waiting for their flights. They’ll stick their legs out in the aisle of the plane and fall asleep, so you have to awkwardly step over them if you need to use the lavatory. These are probably also the same people who crowd around the carousel at baggage claim, preventing people from getting their luggage (like, you do realize it will come back around if you miss it the first time, right?) The Roadblock is the enemy of The Runner.
5. The Cougher
If you, like me, are somewhat of a germaphobe, this last person is your worst nightmare. When trapped on that plane for a flight, the last thing you want to come into contact with is someone with a cold. That stale cabin air is already uncomfortable, but stale germ-filled air is definitely worse. This person will have a seat somewhere near you. They’ll start off with a few gentle sniffles and throat clearing. Before your flight is over, you’re convinced they have the plague. They’re pale, they’re sweating, and you wonder how they’re still able to breathe after hacking out their lungs. You start taking Vitamin C by the handful and try to use the collar of your shirt as a mask to prevent the germs from reaching you. You bathe in hand sanitizer but it won’t be enough. When getting off the plane, your throat is sore and you have a headache. The Cougher will make direct eye contact with you and sneeze with their eyes wide open and without covering their mouth, knowing they’ve claimed another victim.
Whether your next trip to the airport is your first time or your thousandth time, I hope you’re a little more prepared for who you can expect to meet. Find these five people and appreciate them for who they are. Watch them and learn from them. Your airport experience will change drastically and you will become a better person by not being these people.