I’m currently sitting in Dean & Deluca in Bangkok Airport, my third airport in just over 24 hours, supposedly working towards a looming deadline but instead engaging in one of my favourite pastimes – people watching.
I’ve been doing this ever since airport one (Manchester), in one of my happy places at Heathrow Terminal 5 and during most of the thirteen and a half hours of flying in between (yep it is an important deadline, no I haven’t even opened the file I’m supposed to be working on during this period and yep I didn’t get much sleep so am now fuelled by caffeine and chocolate).
The range of people to watch has become increasingly diverse and exotic as the journey progressed. Most exotic amongst the Manchester crowd (apart from me of course) were the group of bubbly Scousers resplendent in full night out makeup, hair in curlers and sporting a whole zoo of animal print onesies. Suffice to say they attracted more than a little attention and that was before one of them bellowed at the top of her voice “Shut the F**K up” when an elderly lady asked her to move her neon pink wheelie case out of the middle of the aisle in Boots.
A full and fairly dull flight from Manchester to Heathrow with only a prolific snorer and a very nervous flier (both in my row) for my viewing pleasure. The two created quite the double act when snorer man was prodded in the ribs by his girlfriend (with accompanying FFS glare) which elicited a large grunting snuffling noise causing nervous lady to visibly jump in her seat. Thankfully I averted my gaze before giggling (and maybe snorting a little bit too) at the farce playing out to my right.
Terminal 5 oh how I love thee. Light and bright, open and airy and packed from wall to wall with people from all walks of life to gaze at, marvel upon and more often than not tut and huff at a bit too.
I’m fascinated by the way people behave in airports (and train stations too for that matter), everyone coming or going somewhere, in their own little worlds but collected together in one space – watching and waiting, dealing or not dealing with the mass of humanity surrounding them.
There are those that travel often, have their routines and will not be shifted from them for anyone. The families frazzled and at breaking point as they aim to entertain and pacify and appease each other whilst simultaneously driving each other to distraction. The lone wanderers, noseying in shops, stopping for a coffee, watching what’s going on, observing life unfolding in all its madness. The dazed and distracted (don’t cope well with these) in their own little world, stopping anywhere that they need regardless of the consequences, guaranteed to bring out passive aggressive Perry at her finest – “Seriously!” was uttered on more than one occasion yesterday.
And then to the big metal box in the sky. A seat by the toilet is some people’s idea of hell, but for me it offers rich pickings. How I delight at the 15th person in a row to fail to work out how to open the loo door – I’m amazed the front of the ashtray is still in one piece it was pulled that many times in the space of an hour.
A dodgy inflight entertainment system brought more observation opportunities. The Man who followed the drinks cart all the way down the aisle to report his system not working, the woman behind me who seemed to think that hitting the screen rapidly and very hard would solve the problem (didn’t find that annoying in the slightest) and the tutty huffy man in the window seat who took passive aggression to whole new levels.
Meal service over, the lights were dimmed and the cabin settled down to sleep. I spent a pleasant 4 hours dipping in and out of my book whilst listening to the amazing Group Therapy playlist by Above and Beyond – having failed to download it to my phone before the flight I emitted a little squeak of glee to find it on the entertainment system (now fully operational thankfully).
During that time I discovered that seat bashing woman was wearing those ridiculous fluffy slider things (you know the ones – they look like your nan’s glamourous slippers but people wear them out nowadays apparently!) and had cold feet (no shit Sherlock!) I know this because she went to the loo four times and each time told whoever was unfortunate enough to be waiting for or coming out of the loo at the time.
Mr Tutty Huffy also became Mr Snorer mark 2 – his low constant rumbling permeating the air along with the smell of someone close-by’s regular and pungent farts.
There was the woman who went to the loo bare footed (twice!!!!) the man who had obviously been lying heavily on some creased fabric judging by the elaborate pattern on his face and the woman who tripped over her own feet as she stumbled half asleep to the loo. Oh what a wonderful time I had.
And so, here I am, procrastinating in the vibrancy of Bangkok Airport. The most colourful, energetic and positive of the three this trip, it’s multicultural in the extreme and entertaining to boot. Currently a burkha clad group of women are staring resolutely into their smartphones at the table next to me, the token male in the group sipping coffee quietly off to one side. To my right a business meeting is taking place – an opportunity for commerce grabbed between flights – and a family of five are tucking in to muffins and cookies, the whole group suntanned and happy, the children sporting braids in their hair and smiles a mile wide – a happy holiday indeed.
My time here is nearly up, time to board my third and final flight for a while to Phnom Penh – back home to stay for a while. Not in transit but still taking every available opportunity to people watch and probably procrastinate too if I’m totally honest.