Airport material, even when you don’t want it

Recently I was in an airport in that situation where one flight is canceled and then the next flight is delayed. Stress and annoyance ran high. Delays are actually a good tool for raising tension for a character. Impatience pushes people / characters to act out something that is generally below the surface. We all have plenty of those — anxieties, fears, or ambitions. Impatience can rub off a scab off and make a character bleed a little.

So back to the airport, where a real woman lost it. Her public persona flew away. I missed the beginning and the end of the event, but the middle had drama enough. Whatever triggered her problem happened in a souvenir store. By the time I looked, the airy metal grate had been lowered, and a few guards seemed to be stationed in different parts of the store, as were a few employees. The woman’s outbursts echoed up and down the concourse and into the waiting area across from the store where the much delayed passengers were hanging out. Most of what she said was a loud blur, though the occasional crisp curse word was easily heard.

I have a very calm temperament, but I can recall a few times in my life when I lost it — screamed and yelled at someone. I know that I was yelling to try to make myself heard. I’m not sure the effort works, by the way, but I know that was my hope. In any event, I felt sorry for this woman and hoped that whatever people were saying to her in words those of us outside the grate could not hear, would help her find her way back to herself, and perhaps with a proverbial shred of dignity intact. I don’t know if she was on our flight, because I wandered off to get away from the crowd.

The rest of he story is about that crowd. Was it their own boredom, or can we splash some other label on that human behavior. Many watched it like it was a reality show staged for customers whose flights were delayed. People looked pleased about the diversion and exchanged snarky smiles.

So the crowd scene could serve a writer, too, for a number of purposes.

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About Carolyn

I live in Washington, D.C., write, teach, try to eat the requisite fruits and veggies daily, and avoid caffeine after 2 pm. I wonder about things a lot -- like why "pretty" means "pretty" and "not so much" and if I can ever perfect the single-portion, no-knead, daily baguette and how many people realize that Beau Brummel had a lot to do with our desire to bathe daily -- those of us who do in fact "take the daily."
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