I walk towards my gate (well, my flight’s gate) to make sure it exists. There it is, but there is a bunch of finely featured, ebony-skinned people sitting there who do not much look like they are off to Vienna. Not that I make assumptions easily, but it turns out that this is a flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The next gate is full of sun-burned Europeans waiting for their flight to Frankfurt and I reflect how the boarding gates act as filters for the cultural currents flowing through the airport.
I walk a little ways as there are barely any seats here and as the gate is not yet open, I want to sit down to do some writing and capture. All the strands of language. All these different features in people.
And then I see him – the biggest mullet I have seen in a long time. It adorns an older man’s head and is long enough to throw a few waves down his neck. Impressive! His shirt is bright blue with some sort of cartoon character on it and I definitely judge him and his wife to be Aussies. But I don’t really feel like small (or deep or really any) talk right now and keep walking to an empty row of five seats.
I am also kind of hungry and not feeling as stuffed as usually after a nine-hour plane ride, so while writing down my airport musings, I savour my precious Vegan Superfood Bar (cacao and ginger nut). I had saved it for a special hungry occasion and judge it worth every one of the $5 I paid for it back in Brisbane (even made on the Gold Coast – nice!).
When I next look up, I see the mullet man again, on his own now, and looking kind of lost, standing there at the railing. Then I notice his blind man stick. He looks towards me and I look at him and I smile, acknowledge. He might not be completely blind, rather just vision impaired, and in any case his other senses will be much sharper than most people’s. After a minute he walks over and sits down near me, leaving two seats free between us. I say hello and he mumbles something back. He is shy! I like that. I still don’t really feel up to a conversation but my urge to connect, spread love, make him feel comfortable and shine some light into his life by way of my sunny nature, wins out this time.
‘Wow, an airport would be an interesting place when you can’t see well.’
‘Yes…’ he smiles now. Good. ‘Very confusing.’ he goes on after a moment, ‘And this place is so big.’
‘Yes, it is. And all these different languages you would pick up on the way…’
‘Yes!’ he nods.
The conversation is slow, a bit of work as he speaks so quietly, mumbly, but turns out his wife is from Northern Germany and they are visiting family near Hanover.
‘Oh great! I will chat more when she gets back. I want to get some more writing done.’
He smiles a “no worries” and we each get back to our bubbles.
Then an a-hole arrives.