The cattle lines

As I entered the airport front entrance, I noticed the line. Twenty minutes later, I realized that the same two people were still standing at the same two check-in counters, no one was moving. I also felt the restlessness growing in the crowd.

There was a lady who was standing at the end of the line; with a, “This is ridicules!” she dragged her luggage and made her own line, got the attention of someone behind the counter and was taken care of. She clearly was an Alpha dog, (well, dog is a nice way to put it.)

We were asked to divide ourselves into two lines: one for final destination flights and one for connecting flights. This caused the forming of six lines. We had become a herd waiting to be fed.

An hour later it finally my turn, I had made it to the feeding trough. I also realized that there was a herd of people crowded in behind me. I moved an inch, they moved an inch. I took a step, they took a step. I breathed, they took another step. I could feel the stampede about to erupt.

Three hours later my fellow travelers and I were now ready to board the plane. The same herd crowded the counter. Today I wanted to be at the top of the food chain – those who boarded first. Ready to be leashed to seat 2C, I opened the overhead and turned to grasp my carry-on. The woman behind me threw her bag in my spot and announced she was sitting in 2A. She may have been the pup of the Alpha dog.

At first I wanted to blame this untamed group of travelers on the culture of the area I had been visiting. But that would be unfair. I think it represents the small and busy world most people allow themselves to live in. It sounds cliché to say it’s about stopping and smelling the roses, but it really is. Today there seemed to be more of a need for this herd to trample the rose garden then there was taking time to appreciate it.

In a few moments they will open the doors and we will make our way off the plane. This will be done in an orderly fashion simply because the airline has created corrals for all of us to walk through. Some will be meeting family; some will be making their way to yet another plane.  I will make my way through the crowd, chuckling at the folks who stop at the top of the escalator, unaware that there are people coming up behind them; the herd that doesn’t realized there is more than one door to go in and out, and the woman who passes the line waiting to use the restroom, unaware that there is a line. And I will be grateful that I no longer live in a small, busy world.

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