Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Airport Experience (Part 1)

I have been doing some journeying over this past week. There are some things that I think you might want to know about me, I don’t like flying because of my fear for heights, I don’t like jumping drenches because of my fear for depths (so my sister calls it and she also says I have fear of length, fear of breadth et al….…… na she sabi.).

An irony to this is that I love airports! I just love going to airports. My colleague expressed a wish that she hoped airports are places you can go to buy pills for specific destinations that will allow you sit calm, close your eyes and within seconds or few minutes you are at your destination. However, she also expressed her fears on its practicality in Nigeria because our Aba boys might manufacture fake pills and you will start seeing yourself in Darfur, Soweto, Rwanda, Kabul, Baghdad ……et al.

Like I said earlier I love airports even though I don’t completely enjoy flying. I love the all obvious scenes and behind the scenes that go on around the whole premise. I love to watch for signs of happy families, angry families, loving couples, displeased couples, excited kids, sad and elated relatives, sleazy airport officials and the exchange of “kola”. I completely love attempting to trace out details from facial expressions, murmured words and body movements out of all the hustle and bustle that go on.

As a young girl, my parents and siblings used to call me the Observer. I was like the little kid you take out who doesn’t play or chat around but just sits quietly, but by the time you return can replay all unnoticed scenes and information. I used to deliver all the behind the scenes gist, detail of conversations and all other juicy stories after we get back home after an outing.

I really think this was as a result of my very observant and sensitive nature coupled with my very sharp sense of hearing.

The same way these days, I go to airports with these attributes, sitting quietly but listening and observing.

I was at the Lagos airport on Tuesday last week on my way back to Abuja when I saw two police officers come in to the waiting area, one of them carried a bag while the other carried nothing. They sat facing one another, one of them sitting on same row of seat as me. After a short while, the one sitting on same row as me, beckons to the other guy to bring the bag. He handed over the bag to the officer and before I could understand what was happening before my eyes, his right hand lifted swiftly to the side of his head, standing stiffly and with the sole of his feet, he titlted himself forward slightly and immediately brought down the hand to his side. With his fist tightly clenched, he made a sharp right turn and walked away………., I went whaooooooo! This happened before over 500 waiting passengers who turned into intent lookers within the period of approximately 10 seconds that it lasted for. Anyway, it ended up being a refreshing scene for all of us after been seated for over two hours waiting for our delayed flights due to bad weather.

After a short while, my flight was called and I had to FLY again……….I went through it successfully sha and landed in Abuja safely and uneventfully….

When we had alighted form the air craft and walking towards the arrivals, I saw a lady run out towards someone behind me, I looked back and it was to the police officer again. The lady curtsied and collected his bag from him. Now, this really interested me and I wanted to speak with the officer, so, paused my walking pace so I could speak with him.

Titilayo: It seems you have people at your beck and call.
Police Officer: (Smiles) Exactly. So how are you doing?
Titilayo: (Puzzled and not sure he had heard me correctly) Very fine. Thank you

He moved ahead from there and I refocused my thoughts on catching a cheap taxi. As I neared the door leading outside, I just saw the security personnel at the door (about three of them) raise their hands to the side of their heads and did a quick salute to…………yeah, you guessed right, the Police Officer.

After the officer had moved on I slowed down my pace and looked into the eyes of the security personnel with an inquiring look asking them in my mind “Where is my Salute?”

None of them noticed me.