A friend of mine, who is a sociologist, said that one of the greatest sports is people watching. People are the most interesting of everything that is on this earth. (At least that is what we human beings think. We do not know if the canine species think the same thing about us!)
So this past week-end since I flew stand by and had a good number of hours in the airports, I did a lot of people watching, in addition to writing a paper for a pastors’ meeting next week. The danger with people watching is that none of it is quantifiable.
Are the people who hold hands in the airport more in love than the people that walk side by side or two steps behind the other person? Are the people who run towards one another and kiss passionately better lovers? Are the wives who walk in front of their husbands more aggressive that the ones that walk side by side? Are the men who walk in front of their girlfriends less respectful of them?
There are qualities that are exhibited and some that seem absent when people are observed. There are people who cut in lines. They seem to be oblivious to the fact that there is a line. Is this obliviousness intentional or caused by the fact that they will miss their flights unless they cut in line? If there is the danger of missing the flight, why do they not at least excuse themselves? Are the same people that cut in lines in the airport, the people that cut in line on the highway because they do not want to wait with the rest?
Then there are the perpetual smilers. I sat across from a currency exchange booth and the agent kept smiling the whole time. She did this for the 6 hours that I was waiting. Is this her personality or is this her business savvy so that customers will choose her booth from the many available on the concourse?
On the opposite of the spectrum there are the serious people. They have this serious look. Sometimes, it could be the fact that they want to accomplish their respective business as quickly as possible or sometimes, they carry burdens and pain that has taken away the joie de vivre. They walk through the line, they sit, they get on the plane and they are completely serious – no smile, no twinkle in their eyes.
When I was a child, I would go to the marketplace with my father and I could easily tell the various ethnic backgrounds. I could tell who was Hungarian or Russian or German or another ethnic group by how they looked or dressed. When I could not do that, I would sneak around (eavesdrop) and by hearing their languages I could tell who they were. I gave up on that game in about 5 minutes this time. The airports of Philadelphia and Chicago are so cosmopolitan that I have an extremely difficult time to pick up ethnic groups from Europe, or the Caribbean Islands, or Asia, or Africa. I tried to guess with the younger couples – teenagers to the mid-thirties. The task is impossible.
As I was typing this article, one lady sitting in front of me was watching her tablet. She was smiling, she seemed to be having a good time, but at one point she became serious and tears were rolling down her cheeks. Was this a picture or message that she received from her loved ones of joyful or sad tears?
Watching people? As I watched people, did someone else watch me? Did they have as much fun as I did or did they avoid watching people because they had other things to do rather than become an amateur sociologist?