The Airport Effect

The other day, the kids and I said good-bye to my husband who was catching a late flight back to Newfoundland.  Although he is home often, there were still kisses and hugs and even some tears.  As we drove away, my daughter pointed out a young fellow with his body stuck half-way through the front window of his sweetheart’s car.  He was hugging and kissing her, probably good-bye, maybe for a week, maybe for months.   I told the kids that airports are emotional places,  jam-packed full of feelings.  That got me thinking…

Airports have an effect on people.  Even if you’re  just standing there, minding your own business, an airport, like a ravenous vampire, can suck the emotions right out of  you.

If you’re anything like me (a total sap who can’t leave a card store without frantically digging through my purse to find my  sunglasses-the perfect disguise for puffy eyes and running mascara) airports can be a real challenge.  It’s a normal thing for me to see someone crying and suddenly feel a desperate need to duck into a bathroom or hide behind a plant.  You see, my body’s auto-response  is to join in.  Resistance is futile; I have been assimilated.  I am now taking part in that person’s joy or pain. Where are my sunglasses?   But even at the risk of exposing this horrible weakness of mine, I find it almost impossible to avert my eyes from these touching airport scenes.  How could I possibly resist watching a  little one at arrivals  running with delight  into her grandparents’ anxious arms?  Impossible!   I guess I’m kind of an emotional stalker.  Ew, that doesn’t sound good; does it?  But I can’t help it! I get sucked into watching.  That final hug at departures, that tearful last squeeze followed by forced smiles and half-hearted waves good-bye…

But where does this leave me?  I’ll tell you where-dabbing annoying mascara-tears with scratchy toilet paper in the nearest bathroom stall.

Yes, airports are emotional places.

If you were on an “emotional scavenger hunt” what better place could there be to fill your card but the airport! Next time you are there, take a look around and listen-  You might hear joyful squeals at the arrival gate or teary boohooing at departures. You might witness an almost hyper-excitement from a vacationer on their way to see their very first palm tree, or hands-in-the-air frustration from a passenger who’s suddenly realized they’ve missed their flight, or worse,  total time-to-call-security-anger  from a guy who’s been bumped just because the airline had the audacity to overbook.  You’ll probably see exhaustion, boredom, and maybe even fear.  Chances are it wouldn’t take long to see it all.

As the kids and I continued on our drive home, my daughter remembered a quote she recently read on twitter-

“Airports see more sincere kisses than wedding halls.  The walls of hospitals have heard more prayers than the walls of churches.”  author unknown.

Actually, I think there might be some real truth to that quote.   After all, airports are one of the few places where good old fashioned PDA’s are socially acceptable, and if you’re going to fall victim to the “Air Port Effect” then I can’t think of a better way than with a nice big smooch!  Yup, sounds pretty good to me.



10 thoughts on “The Airport Effect

  1. Some people come and go in our lives and leave nothing but a vague memory of another time and place, becoming a mere shadow of a forgotten past, others leave lasting images of wonderful conversation and heart warming stories, which leave footprints on our soul. I love the airport effect, thank you for your conversation, looking forward to reading more of your work.

  2. This is very nice. Personally, we are the ones who will excitedly be making our first trip away this week so I hope I get to experience some of the feelings of watching others instead of being absorbed in my own excitement. I enjoyed reading this very much. Keep up the good work.


  3. Ok, so I am not a writer by any way, shape or form. I am an artist, so when I read I like to visualize the words I see. So I really enjoyed “The Airport Effect” because I could see that cheap toilet paper that get stuck in your nostrils and eyelids when you cry or in my case get sick after a long European trip. Thanks Mel ,keep writing ,I will enjoy reading and “seeing” every word.

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