For this week’s assignment, I chose to describe an airport terminal as seen through the eyes of a homeschool mother, a child traveling for the first time, a business executive traveling for the umpteenth time, and a soldier on his way home from overseas. The funny thing about my choice is that I have never entered an airport as a traveler…that’s right, I’ve never flown before (except once at our tiny local airport, they took kids up for spins in private planes, and I got to go up for like ten minutes. This was…say…eight years ago). The last time I was in an airport was several years ago when we were picking someone up, so these descriptions are based on my several-year-old memories and my imagination. I’d be curious to find from some of you frequent flyers if I’ve got it right. :-)
Through the eyes of a homeschool mother:
Choked with the scent of stale perfume, cleaning fluid and nacho cheese, the germ-laden air swirled through the teeming terminal. Greasy bits of burrito wrappers skimmed the equally greasy floor in front of the Taco Bell kiosk, propelled by the constant movement of five sets of automatic doors. Stagnant lines held numbers of coughing, sniffling people prisoners on strips of muddy floor marked with tape. Each person impatiently awaited his turn to enter yet another line, and in the meantime many exposed themselves to the radiation emitted by their various BlackBerrys and iPhones. Nearby, a rack of five-dollar romance novels turned alluring painted faces toward the contorted crowd. One, two, three…the homeschool mother turned with distaste from her survey of the airport terminal to count noses again.
Through the eyes of a child traveling for the first time:
One chubby hand wrapped in his father’s strong grasp, the other clutching his precious bag of M&Ms recently retrieved from a vending machine, the little boy surveyed the swirling mass of people with interest. How many different kinds there were! There was a man carrying a shiny little suitcase with bright clasps and a lady with very red lips, a bright-orange raincoat and a pair of enormous sunglasses. And what yummy smells came from the tiny coffee shop where daddy was buying his coffee! But it wasn’t a coffee shop, really; more like a booth at the fair…A sudden noise, trapped between roar and scream, distracted the lad from his pleasant contemplations. He turned toward the wide blue window behind him just in time to watch with awe-struck eyes as a jet lifted off the runway. Popping a red M&M into his mouth, the child gave a happy skip. Traveling was so much fun.
Through the eyes of an executive, on yet another business trip:
Cold rain beating the glass-cased building and clinging to countless coats and suitcases lent a dense, steamy quality to the heat inside the terminal. Between clusters of fellow-travelers, muddy tracks and blackish puddles testified to the treacherously slippery floor. An eddy of chill wind cut through the suffocating crowd, carrying in its wake a mixed blessing: a breath of dewy, untainted air and a hard-bitten blast that made the executive turn up the collar of his trench. Apart from the added misery of wet weather, this terminal looked, sounded and smelled like any other. Unattended baggage cluttered the crowded floor; tangled lines of waiting people conspired to confuse even the savviest of travelers; unintelligible announcements over the loudspeakers periodically interrupted the terminal’s busy hum; and a weird mixture of coffee, ammonia, and winter sweat perfumed the air. The executive, resigned to a long wait before his flight, settled down on a vacant bench with a weak Americano and half of yesterday’s paper. Just another day at the office…
Through the eyes of a young soldier, on his way home from overseas:
Long months spent in a hot climate rendered the frequent chilly scraps of wind admitted by the automatic doors enjoyable to the young soldier. The aroma of American coffee steaming from the cup in his hand filtered away the airport’s unpleasant odors and sharpened his senses to take in the details of the bustling terminal. Though the drizzle had long since ceased, raindrops glistened still on sleeves and hoods. Brilliant raincoats and umbrellas lent a festive appeal to the darkening airport, while the hurried crowds and long lines seemed reminiscent of a mall at Christmas-time. The soldier took another sip of his coffee and stepped out into the dewy twilight. It was good to be home.