Last weekend on a snowy day, I ventured to Philadelphia International Airport to catch a flight to Chicago for the ASUG Volunteer Planning Meeting. Since the roads were clear and schools were delayed two hours, I got there plenty early and had time to relax with a cup of coffee at Peet’s (Terminal E) and walk easily to the gate. During the pre-flight and flight itself, I thought that I would jot down whatever societal observations I could. Is the airport a microcosm of society? A peek inside our lives? Probably not, but there was some funny stuff going down!!
As I sat for coffee, here’s what I noticed:
- A Catholic school trip going somewhere. They were all dressed in green matching sweatshirts. How do I know it was a Catholic school? The group leader is a nun.
- An ‘older’ couple trying to use their smartphones. Maybe late 50’s/early 60’s. Smartly dressed, likely have some discretionary income. Both staring at their screens and trying to figure out how to work ‘this app thing’.
- Business folks. Lots of ’em.
- Family travelers. The complete opposite of the business folks. Backpacks and tote bags galore. Not a rolling briefcase or laptop bag to be seen.
- Senior citizens. Not as many as I’ve encountered in previous trips. And none walking really slow or causing grief to above mentioned business folks or family travelers.
- Chitter chattering couples. Many of these today. Some in love, some bickering, others working together with determination to get to thier destination.
At my gate, I noticed these things:
- A good portion of people huddled around laptops, watching movies. Some using headphones, others not so much. And at this gate, the large school group I mentioned earlier was lining up.
- A guy who keeps trying to use voice dictation on his phone in the noisy gate area. He kept getting frustrated that it’s not working right and can’t quite figure out why.
Since my flight is on Southwest, it’s cattle car boarding. I get an aisle seat in the first few rows of the plane and since the flight attendants announce it’s a full flight- wait for my seatmates. Of course, its the school group. I get a 6th grade in the window and yes, the nun (who is the school principal) in the middle. Best Catholic School Parent behavior for this flight! I also see:
- Packers fans going to Chicago and their ‘reception’ on the plane by the Chicago fans. No one is mean-spirited yet, especially with a nun in row 6!
- Elderly guy with ‘120k’ done of work done on him because of a car accident. He had carried on a full HP tower computer and had the flight attendant put it in the over head, announced his pricey surgery to her and asked if she would fill his McDonald’s cup with ice during the flight. She replied that she would even give him a bag of ice.
- Of course, tower computer guy takes the middle seat right next to voice dictation guy. Can’t make this stuff up!!
- Tower computer guy tells the flight attendant that he’s disabled and needs the seat next to him for his pills. She gently says that if he didn’t pay for two seats, he’s out of luck. Fortunately for him, his luck holds up as the other passenger finds a seat closer to her husband.
- The flight deck crew is announced as Capt. Oveur and Capt. Murdock! I was waiting for him to announce that folks need to stop calling him Shirley!!
- Last, but not least: Voice recognition guys shoves a wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth about halfway through the flight. He thought he was being slick about it, but the looks of everyone around him was priceless.
Flight was uneventful and the weather in Chicago frigid. A good time was had by all! Is the airport a true microcosm of society? Likely not. But it does make for some good stories and memories. You just have to take the time to look around.