Thursday, October 13, 2011

Departures and Arrivals

The woman sitting across from me is sniffling. Her chin is tucked into her neck, and a small tear barely leaves her eye before she wipes it away with a tissue. She balances her cell phone under her ear. She talks quietly. Her face contorts as she struggles to control her expression. As I watch, I listen to another flight begin to board.

We are in an airport. I can't help but wonder who this poor woman is talking to. I am a voyeur. I turn my head with embarrassment in the opposite direction, but against my will I glance back.

How often does human drama unravel in places like this? Is she breaking up with a boyfriend? Has she just been to a funeral? Did she say her last goodbye to a favorite aunt or uncle who is dying?


Sometimes my office also feels like an airport. There are many arrivals and departures. Each person comes on a different schedule. Occasionally many at once. Other times just a few stragglers.

And they bring their baggage. Usually I am more a helper and less a voyeur. I may procure a larger bag or help them rearrange their contents. Often a few things get discarded.

Before long they are running back to the gate to catch their plane. Waving goodbye until our next visit.

Where we will do the same thing all over again.


The woman is boarding her flight. By the time she leaves, the tears are gone. Maybe it was simply a bad day. She smiles as she hands her pass to the man at the counter.

And I remain in my chair, waiting. An elderly gentleman is talking on the phone a few seats away. I catch the last few sentences of his conversation.

Shingles....shingles you say.

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