On the one hand, I find airports to be amazing places. I like the sensation of take-off.
But what I really mean is, they are places where you’ll see those genuine human encounters. They are ’emoticon-free zones’ where you’ll witness people being reunited with the people they love the most, and people saying goodbye to the people they love the most.
You’ll also see the exact opposite, come to think of it. You’ll see families finally saying good-bye to the inlaws or ‘friends’ who’ve overstayed their welcome or who were never welcome in the first place (that’s what you get if nobody admits out loud that nobody actually wants the visit to happen).
You’ll also see honest expressions of everything else.
That’s bored Canadian over there, though you’ll also find that at the symphony = dressed-up version. (WiseOne says why would anyone pay to be bored at a symphony when you could head to the airport and do it for free?)
That’s sleepy Canadian over there (trying to sleep across 4 bumpy chairs – smooth wooden church-style pews would be better).
That’s thirsty Canadian over there (so thirsty he’ll pay $2.75 or whatever for a sip of cold water).
But anyway, my favorite thing is that it’s the place where you see children rush into the arms of daddy, (finally) and sometimes even the family dog is in tow, wagging his tail.
It’s a place where families are separated and re-united. I like the re-united part.
But on the other hand, I dislike airports. I dislike going through customs because the officials are often so very incredibly rude. They seem utterly confused about it, as a matter of fact.
Will someone please tell them that it is perfectly possible to search through bags or to run scans while being, simultaneously, polite. It is possible.
And I would go so far as to actually recommend such an approach.
After all, please tell me, who is invading whose space? You are searching through my bags and my luggage. You are infringing on my privacy. Now you are rude on top of it? You are scanning my body and my clothing – now you are bossy and pushy too? (Don’t tell me you suffer from Police Service Confusion: “Hey boss, does having this gun mean I get to be rude to the Unarmed Citizen?”)
It’s not the way.
We deserve better. A frown does not prove that you are thorough. It does not prove that you are doing your job well. Au contraire, my friend.
Take a cue from gentle Father Brown. How did he put the criminals at ease? Did he do it by being aggressive and mean? No, he did not. He acted all nicey and clueless and thank you and please. That’s how you’ll watch them. That’s how you’ll fool them, to be honest.
The criminal mind is an arrogant one. It’s full of vanity and pride, pride in a disguise, and in fooling the others.
So it’s time to outfool.
Look dumber and nicer than them.
What have you got to lose?
The genuine Canadian who wouldn’t think of saying the word ‘bomb’ face-to-face (but let them into a comment box and you’ll hear them all screechin’) won’t really think twice about your nice manners. He’ll just be glad to not be harassed, this time.
(The visitor to Canada will think to himself, hey, these Canadians really are swell, it must be that arctic cold weather I’ve heard all about. Hmm, maybe I’ll be back, buy up a business or two. And some land. In Vancouver. VRBO, all the better. Squeeze out the poor locals from their own prime-time land, it’s time for some income, line my pocket with cash.)
As for those ones cruising into security with something to hide, they’ll laugh to themselves about the dolt who couldn’t see anything
until they get caught.
They won’t know what hit ’em.
So if I were in charge, I’d say to the customs people, no need to be icy. No need to look fierce. Be relaxed, be content, treat other people with kindness, gentleness and respect.
Sure, keep your eyes sharp, but no need to be rude, no need to be pushy. Say a prayer. Ask God to enlighten you – to show you where there’s danger, to keep your eyes vigilant, to do your job well. Focus, be steady, be ready, but you can multi-task. You can do this job with a smile.
I’m not through with airports.
This is like a ride from Edmonton to Boston.
(With lots of stops along the way.)
What I was going to say
Was that I thought of an analogy
You ain’t surprised
But I am
To see it
All spacey and wanting to rhyme
(But not quite)
I was going to say
That I once heard another tale
A poignant and surprising tale
About a location surrounded
All under seige
The enemy holding it captive
No one could escape
the captors relented
You can go
As a matter of fact
Have an issue
But leave us your treasures
Your homes we shall plunder
Maybe we amend this
Take one thing
Take one last thing
One household treasure per wife
One item per life
(Last concession to Our Lady)
But that’s it!
Carry it out
(Don’t ask us to help
We ain’t movers.
Truck isn’t yours)
Take your gold and diamond ring
Take your grandma’s old lamp
Take your picture frame
We’ll wait for you here
(So the story goes –
I hope I do it justice)
So they made their exit.
Timid little girl, came out
Timid little boy
With his littler brother
Is the coast really clear?
Mommy’s coming in the rear
Just right behind
She’s slower than us
Wobble and sway
There she is
Reeling and wheeling
And huffing and puffing
I wouldn’t say
Husband he’s heavy
She’s got a load
She’s carrying him
She’s saving him
According to the rules
That she didn’t make
Some men are cooperative
And some men are stupid
Some men know what’s best for the whole
And some men just
But to finish the story
The hallowed little story
The women struggled out
Their victory won
A technicality overlooked
Meant reuniting done
All together now
Husband is safe
We’re all of a piece
What you been eating?
. . .
I like that one. I don’t think you have to be married to appreciate it. The people we want to ‘save’ in our own lives are not always that easy to save. I keep forgetting whether it was Therese or Teresa who said that she asks of Jesus a difficult thing: that he would save someone who cares not about eternal life in the first place. (I could search my own blog to find it but I’d rather not bother. Need to get back to “Bitching About Things That Matter.”)
What a modern phenomenon! It’s a good thing you’re relying on God rather than luck, because it’s something so difficult – to persuade someone who doesn’t even believe in anything beyond the weather forecast that prayer is worth the time.
It’s kind of like you’re at an airport, and the plane is being boarded. They’re doing the last boarding call, and half the passengers are still sitting on chairs. (Or, if it’s AirFrance, they’ve switched the gate again without telling you – they play a game over there called “Guess where?” It keeps the locals in shape because they have to dash with their bags every few minutes. Who needs a treadmill when you have that? But maybe AirFrance is okay, I don’t actually know. As for Delta, whoo-boy, don’t get me started.)
Yeah, it’s like watching half the airport being half-asleep and out-of-it while the plane is roaring its engines.
No, I wouldn’t be like those nicey-nice stewardesses emoticon-faced ladies.
I’d be roaring myself.
Hey lady, give me that mic! I’d push her aside.
“People, listen up!
LAST BOARDING CALL FOR ALL IDIOTS!
Stop checking out your phone! Get up, hop to it. The plane’s going, and it’s got your name on it! This is your ride, human being! We’re going to a place called Heaven. Trying NOT to do a Stopover in a placed called PURGATORY!!!”
Yeah, I wouldn’t, these days, be like the average “Flight Attendant.” I’d be more like a Stewardess, Man. Not just in attendance, in other words, but actually trying to be a steward of what I’m supposed to be in charge of.
I’d put on an apron and hit the clueless upside the head with an oven mitt. (Can you believe April Cornell sells oven mitts singly? As in, you order what you think is a pair and they deliver you the one mitt? Uh – what?!)
Anyway, there I am:
Get on board!
Put down that phone!
Let’s go! Come on. What do I have to do? Pull you? Come on.
And I would. I’d start tugging on his arm. He’d get up, more out of embarrassment for me, and embarrassment that we’re causing a scene than anything else (Canadians absolutely hate making a scene. They’d rather be nice to your face and talk about you behind your back after you’re gone.)
I’d say, and you over there! Hey, you look familiar! Ah, it’s you John-Henry Westen, my friend. You too! Come on! No, don’t be angry with me. Come away from that boat, yes I know it’s all shiny, I know it was yours, your very own baby, but let it go now. Let the bathtub drain, say goodbye little ship.
We need you along too. You and your family (oh, they’re all aboard already, I see) we’re going to the same place. We’re going on a ride.
Come on, let’s go!
Everyone’s already waiting. The Turbo-Tax guys, the universal Church supply guy, the Basilica people, the RCIA folks – they’re already there. We’re all side by side. (Squishy plane, this.)
If you don’t starting moving then I’ll pose. Who has a camera? I’ll get someone to take a photo of John-Henry Westen Seated Near Who-Does-She-Think-She-Is Canadian Blogger. Say cheese! It’s you and me, sir. Let’s post it somewhere.
Oooh – I knew you’d hate that.
Head over there.
We ain’t actually enemies, remember? As a matter of fact, a good chunk of my ancestors were named John Henry too. Got a few things in common – a bit of tea, your family and me, a few hours – Trust me, you’d find we agree about lots more than this.
We’re going to the same place, and even on the same ride. You didn’t forget, did you?
Oh look – it’s not actually a plane (Guess the destination deserves more.)
A different kind of boat.