Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

The Airport

The other day I went to pick up my wife at Toronto Pearson International Airport. I wish the circumstances for her trip could have been better, but that’s life. Nonetheless, I used the time in a way I hadn’t imagined and I thought for Freedom Friday, I’d share my experience.

Toronto Pearson International Airport
Toronto Pearson International Airport

Her flight came in delayed, which isn’t unusual since things like that happen. Instead of grumbling, as many of the others who were waiting for their loved ones were doing, I found myself watching those around me. People-watching is something I do a lot. I try not to make it obvious, as it takes a certain skill to watch people without garnering attention on oneself. I’m not speaking from a spying perspective, but from a natural curiosity of what people do when they think others are not watching.

For instance, I saw a young woman sitting by herself studying the crowd with a sign on her lap. She didn’t readily hold it up, but grabbing a quick peek, I found she was part of the Pan Am Games welcoming committee. I assumed either she was waiting for an athlete or an official arriving from the same flight my wife was on. I was wrong. Eventually, she rose when a man approached her from another flight, and she said his name. She also had assumed wrong. The look on her face told the whole story. Disappointment. Embarrassment. Defeat. She quickly raised her sign and waited until the right person appeared. Somehow, she was self-conscience holding up the greeting sign.

Airport Reunion
Airport Reunion

The other scene that piqued my interest was the joy a mother and father experienced when their daughter rushed into their arms. Water flowed. Embraces were strong. The grins on everyone’s faces could have powered half a city block. All those movies where you see people slamming into each other at the end is reminiscent of this scene. The emotional impact from the event couldn’t stop me from smiling. I’m still trying to figure out why those emotional moments affect people somewhat the same way. Oh, how wonderful is the power of a hug!

Of course, no people-watching session would be complete without the screaming kid. The parents looked as if they had gotten off the flight from hell. The father was dragging the baggage from behind and the mother was pushing the stroller while holding her bawling daughter. It was awful. The kid wouldn’t stop crying. She wanted to get into the stroller but her mother had stuffed the front seat with a carry-on. Poor kid. I know the father was about to blow. The veins in his neck had bulged and he was turning red by the second. I think they had all they could do from loosing their minds. Poor parents.

Eventually, my wife arrived and we drove out to eat. But having noticed how people behaved, I wondered something. I wondered if there was anyone watching us.


Have you watched people lately? If so, what have you learned?


Jack Flacco is an author and the founder of Looking to God Ministries, an organization dedicated to spreading the Word of God through outreach programs, literature and preaching.

16 thoughts on “The Airport

  1. Because I’m an introvert, and I don’t know what to talk about in any given situation with other human beings, I tend to watch people, too. It’s a great way to spend time, to be honest, as long as the people around me don’t know me well. If they do, then saying nothing just makes them feel I’m being moody for reasons I’m still not clear.

  2. I just went through the Toronto airport for the first time last month. But I was too busy going through customs to do much people watching. Which is too bad, because airports are a great place for that.

  3. Eons ago, when I was a teenager, my dad would take my mom and me to the mall, then set by the fountain under the pretext of reading a paperback. (usually Agatha Christie) In reality, he was people watching. On the way home he would tell us all about the crazy things he saw people do. What great memories he left me…

  4. Odds are that someone was watching you, and who knows, recognised you from the blog. (‘Look over there, that’s the guy who writes all that zombie stuff.’) And I bet the big hugs were because the daughter had finally escaped from sitting next to the family with the screaming kid.

  5. When I was deploying heavily and traveling commercial I got a lot of people watching time in. I noticed during a layover at Guam that I could tell which region some people from Japan were by their walk. (Compared to say….those from Tokyo). The best example is that little Honda robot with a slight bend to the knees. It was 2am….so stuff like that just jumps out at you…. 😉

  6. People – watching is an art AND a science, I guess. I was out on the square of this little town where I live, doing the occasional photograph. I saw these 2 women enjoying the evening air, there was a small crowd, & instead of just photographing them from afar, came up & asked if they would mind if I photographed them. They said they wouldn’t, so I just snapped a photo. We chatted for a bit & I came away with a nice memory of a brief night encounter.
    A little courtesy goes a long way.

      1. Didn’t get their names. I’m kinda cautious about approaching women I don’t know just out of the blue.

  7. I watch people all the time. I have retired and became a bellhop at the Lego Resort. I love it when the children come in and get awed by the place.

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