Up by 5:30, showered and ready to go by 6:30. At 7:25am I hopped a bus from Delhi, NY into NYC. The temperature was about 16ºF, a little warmer than the previous 2 days but threatening to drop significantly in the next 24 hrs.
Feeling a little apprehensive about the trip threw my stomach off a bit. I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to get from the bus station to the airport with 2 suitcases and 2 carry-ons, but I assumed grabbing a taxi as fast as I could would be the best option. I was right.
Shoulders and back already aching I looked for a way to get out of that bus terminal and onto the street, stopping several times to readjust and give my muscles a break.
A friendly Jamaican taxi driver was the first to approach me. I asked about pricing and gladly let him take all my bags and load them up. After telling him it was my first time in the city he offered to take some pictures of me and played the part of tour guide on our drive to the airport.
My anxiety decreased as I took in the city, and I hoped to venture back out later if time permitted.
On the car ride we talked about a myriad of things – ethnicity, religious backgrounds, wealthy people buying apartments for 95 million dollars and hypocrites in the church. I got to do a little sight seeing from the back of the taxi window and was relieved when I was dropped off safely at the terminal.
Unfortunately for me I could not check my bags in for another several hours. With aching muscles I made my way up the escalator, luggage in hand, to the food court and finally decided on some pizza.
Sitting nearby was a guy that I had been in line with at the Air France desks. Sitting two chairs over, I dove into my pizza. I was so hungry.
It can be a bit awkward sitting with only one chair in between you and a stranger in a cramped space but a lot of times some great conversations emerge. I sat there and ate and wondered if we’d just keep eating in silence or start a conversation. And then I heard probably the best icebreaker ever.
“So I noticed that you used your napkin to get the grease off of your pizza. I do that sometimes too.”
Cue hour-long conversation.
Sven (I hope I spelled his name correctly) is originally from Denmark but currently lives in Seattle. He was on his way back from a family trip to Egypt. He had been in the airport since the night before waiting for a flight on standby because a delay in Paris caused him to miss his connecting flight at JFK.
We talked about travel and job occupations and the likelihood of getting killed in a plane crash or by Ebola as opposed to a car accident or the flu. You know, all the good stuff. Before he left to head to his gate he asked my name and gave me a nice firm handshake.
He could’ve just sat there, one chair over, and never took the risk of initiating a conversation. We would’ve both finished our pizza and gone our separate ways and never known any differently. But you know what, I’m glad that he said something. Learning about someone else’s life and exchanging thoughts and ideas is a much better use of my time than scrolling through pictures on my phone.
This sort of thing is actually one of the reasons that I love traveling so much. Of course it’s the places, but it’s also the PEOPLE.
I’m fascinated by the lives that people live and am almost constantly wondering about the stories behind the sea of faces I pass.
Every person is living a unique story and to intertwine in theirs, if even for a brief moment, is an honor and provides opportunity for personal growth. It never gets boring to me.
I rarely get bored in airports. Coffee, people watching and reading can keep me busy for hours.
The questions and thoughts that seem to endlessly stream into my mind overwhelm me at times as I observe the world around me and all of the people in it.
I keep being reminded that people matter more than anything else. Relationships are the main point. It’s hard in this materialist world to focus on people instead of things, or to direct our attention from our selfish inclinations onto the needs of others.
I think one of the hardest parts of being people and relationship oriented is that it almost always involves a risk of some sorts and also a bit of sacrifice.
We have to make those choices. Some of the risks and sacrifices we take will inevitably cause us to fall flat on our faces, but others will bring depth and joy far beyond what we could’ve ever hoped for.
We just have to decide whether people are worth the risk.
a person or thing regarded as likely to turn out well or badly in a particular context or respect