Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Slice of Life

People-watching can be so entertaining, and an airport is a perfect spot to indulge in this pastime.  I fly most often from Atlanta to Charlotte and am rarely surprised at the outfits and behavior I see, dismayed perhaps, but not surprised.

Our recent trip to Greece, however, provided an opportunity to see a different slice of life.  People-watching on the flight over revealed an abundance of folks over 50, most of whom were sporting the latest in travel vests and accessories. TravelSmith would have been delighted.
The flight home, other than a handful of Greeks traveling to visit relatives in the US, was filled with returning tourists who were younger than those we’d seen on the trip over and even included a San Antonio high school class returning from a senior trip to Greece.  Times have sure changed since my senior trip to Daytona Beach.
I smiled as I watched the antics of the senior class trading seats throughout the flight, eating junk food nonstop and playing video games. On the other hand, I was horrified to see a middle-aged woman going up and down the aisle barefoot to visit the restroom.  I don’t know about you, but on an 11-hour flight with the restroom growing messier by the minute, I barely want to visit it with my shoes on, much less barefoot.
While waiting for our connecting flight in Philly, I quickly determined that Philly had cornered the market on three-inch heels, and I was appalled to see a woman wearing silver glittery short shorts.  I know, I know, short shorts are “in” this season, but I don’t know many women who should wear them—and certainly not in silver glitter.
My most interesting people-watching experience also occurred there. A weary family of six sat down across from us--a mother, father and four little girls. The girls, except for the infant, were dressed in coordinating outfits of red pants and white blouses.  Mom was in a dress, and she and the three older girls all wore their long hair up in high ponytails.  They were a darling family, but somehow Dad didn’t seem to fit the tableau.
He was dressed in a ball cap worn sideways and low-hanging pants—you know, gangsta style--with a shirt that showed his many tattoos. At first, he sat apart from his family, but came to sit with them when the toddler started to cry and fidget.  I was distressed when he brandished his fist at her, and was imagining physical abuse occurring in the home while also wondering if he was a gang member.
Imagine my surprise when the young man shared with me that he was in the Army, stationed in Germany, and that they were on the way to Puerto Rico for leave. Until he spoke to me, the family had spoken only in Spanish, so I couldn’t glean anything about them from their conversation. That didn’t make the fist waving any less distressing, but it did tell me first impressions can be deceiving. Had he been dressed in his uniform or more conventional casual clothes, might I have read his fist waving differently or would I still have found it disturbing?
Somehow, I can’t get this slice of life out of my mind, and I keep coming back to it to see what further lessons it may hold.