Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My Favorite Things: Peopletainment

Reflection of a plane

I used to date this woman who used to love to going out to eat. Who doesn't? The odd thing about it was that we would sit in a booth or table in silence, giving one another odd glances and from time to time laughing out loud.

There is a routine I once watched by one of my favorite comics, Lewis Black. He talks about hearing someone say the dumbest thing ever heard, “If it weren't for my horse, I'd never have spent that year in college.” I completely identified with this hilarious routine. (You can hear it on YouTube.)

Dinner entertainment: eating too fast
So my date and I would sit and listen to conversations at various eateries. I never heard anything as dumb as the comment about the horse, but we heard quite a few interesting things. And as much as I love to listen in to strange conversations, I love even more just watching people. I can do it in malls and parks, but airports are about the best places.

For one thing, you can watch people from all over the world. Different cultures converging in one place is usually a recipe for fun. You see an empty gate room full of seats and one person in a corner enjoying the space. Another person will enter the area and take a seat within spitting distance, ignoring all the other seats available. Normal people wouldn't go and sit right next to someone in an empty area!

Another fun aspect of airport people watching is that there is normally a degree of stress involved. Packing, getting in a car, fighting traffic, parking, lugging the baggage, a nagging wife, 3 screaming kids laden with toys, and their strollers and car seats, standing in line to check bags, going through security, finding your gate and then having it change at the last minute, but then the gate isn't just across the hall, but in another terminal (it happens often in Houston). It's great entertainment to watch the meltdown and terse commands to their family members!

I love the elderly who don't understand that the only one hard of hearing is themselves. They can be talking to the person next to them, but loud enough for me to hear them 40 feet away.

I love trying to figure out people's story. I know I'm probably wrong, but who's MY entertainment.
The main terminal in Lima

Recently, I watched an employee drive up in a golf cart and approach the jetway. An aircraft had just arrived and the people had yet to emerge. I noticed that she had a sign in her hand, obviously waiting for a top-tier flier, ready to whisk him to his next flight. At some airports, Mother Airline employs a fleet of Mercedes and they deliver them from one plane to the next on the tarmac. I guess in Houston, they only get a golf cart.

A man finally emerged with two young boys en tow, about 11 and 14 in age. The man and employee took a seat in the front and the two boys sat in the rear. What I found fascinating was that the boys were not enamored with personal electronic devices. Looking around at other kids, they were all busy with phones, game devices, DVD players and laptops. These young men were interested in watching what their father was doing, learning how to interact, watching how this important man dealt with things. “Good parenting,” noted my flying partner, who had been observing the same thing.

The terminal in Houston
In most airports, flight crews have a lounge in which to hang out in, or, as we might say, “hide.” It's a great place to pull paperwork for a flight, work on trades or schedule bids, take a nap, eat a bite or make phone calls. Most flight attendants make a bee line for the lounge and only emerge for their flight at the very last minute, savoring the time away from passengers for as long as possible. But often, I find myself heading to the gate early, just so I can enjoy some people-based entertainment provided by travelers. People watching at the's my favorite!

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