When I was nine, had you asked me what my favorite place was I would have said “airports.” Maybe I would have even specified the Chicago O’Hare Airport because of the seemingly endless branches. Perhaps no longer my absolute favorite places on earth, airports still occupy a special place in my world of fascination, and for many of the same reasons as they did when I was nine. I like to experience new restaurants and shops. I enjoy the lack of daily responsibilities inherent to traveling. I love to people-watch. Sitting at my gate, waiting to board, a rainbow of personalities parade by.
The airport worker driving the shuttle through crowds of passengers, favoring his own voice over the beep of the horn. “Beep beep. Beep beeeeeep.”
The man walking his two Chihuahuas and narrating just so, as he wanders through the concourse.
The child running with backpack dragging on the ground. A crowd of students. Then the mother running frantically after the child.
“Bee bee bee bee beep. Beep. Bee bee beep” going the other direction now.
But the fun doesn’t end there. A women starts talking to you about her favorite violinist, and you nod politely in utter confusion. It’s only after she walks away that you realize she saw your ukulele case and assumed it was a different four-stringed instrument. Walking out to the plane, you must literally traverse the tarmac to reach the aircraft. You almost bump your head on the propeller because you’re distracted by counting the windows. Nine. Nine windows but your seat assignment is 21C. You decide to let that be a concern for someone else as you climb up the steps, using the rope railings to steady yourself.
You get on the plane and are seated between a woman breastfeeding her child and a man pretending to study spreadsheets as he dozes off behind his sunglasses (true stories here).
Being an extroverted person means that I get my energy from being around other people, so one can imagine the joys of being in a crowded airport. For an introverted person, it can be a nightmare. Introverts recharge when they’re by themselves. This is why the actual flight begins to appeal to introverted people – when the chatting with your neighbor ends and you are socially entitled to put in headphones, close your eyes, and say nothing until your flight lands or the woman next to you spills milk on your shoulder.
No matter who you are, traveling can be wonderfully exciting if you know what type of personality you have and what you need. You can make the journey just as great at your final destination! If you find yourself out of your element, take a deep breath and laugh your ass off at the ridiculousness that is, and always will be, The Airport.