Airport adventures are always fun. I get to meet many interesting people with strong opinions, people willing to tell everyone in earshot exactly what those opinions are. I have the opportunity to listen to the joyful wails of a small person screaming for his mother two rows in front of me. I experience the pleasure of sitting on half of my purchased seat because the person next to me decided the armrest was too tight, and lifted it up, enabling him to spill into my seat. Ah, the joys of air travel.
Did I mention that "fun" has many definitions?
I thought so.
Tonight at the airport, I stood in the middle of the A line of a Southwest gate, because moo the tickets are moooooo fully refundable moooo should I need mooo to cancel or change mooo them. Being able to squeeze into moooo the cattle car of an airplane is not mooo lost on mooooo me either.
As I stood in the middle of the A herd, I heard some guy two or three people back begin talking about Blackwater and outsourcing of the Iraqi war. Most of the details he told very loudly to a woman he apparently met in line in front of him were details anyone could get from reading the front page of Slashdot or, if you're more saavy, the New York Times. Most of the details ("four times the amount per person for Blackwater by outsourcing than to our own army!") were related verbatim from the statistics I had casually read some time in the last few weeks.
As with all defensive tactics the mind uses without thought, unconsciously I tuned out the man's words and rants, and focused on other items more interesting to me. Bits and pieced of the conversation would pierce my consciousness, but not much. He was little more than an annoying fly buzzing around when you're concentrating hard on something else.
The line began moving. Eventually, I handed over my boarding pass and walked down the jetway, stopping 15 feet from the entrance onto the plane, maybe 10 people away. As I stood there, I became aware of the acoustics of the jetway. The words behind me became amplified as the man was telling everyone around him how he'd been watching these events for years YEARS and they had gotten out of control. Years he'd be keeping track.
I stood there, listening for the years comments repeat several times. And then I turned.
I waited until he paused to take a breath.
"If you've been paying attention to these events for so long, what have you done to change them?" I asked.
I was tired of this man complaining. I was tired of this man spouting numbers as if they were his numbers. I was tired of this man and his complaining about the world. Complaining without solution. Had he done anything to fix the problems he saw?
He looked at me surprised. "What have I done to change them? Well, not much."
I looked at him a moment longer and turned back around.
He stopped talking.