So many people, coming and going. So many people busy or pretending to be easy. Some with their families, some alone, some others in large groups were they never really meet. Other are there to work hard, give away tickets, checking people on their flights, tending to their many needs or cleaning the large spaces filled with light and energy.
At the entrance, the men that guard the trolleys to put the bags on, chat about how many tips they have received today. They live on them so every single coin and bill count. And many people prefer to carry their bags inside, not wanting to spend the little money they have on a trolley they have to return to the entrance. They prefer to spend it on one of the restaurants or in some gift to the person they are going to see at their destination.
One of the men hasn't had the best week. He really needs to win some money and tries to attract clients by telling them how easy it is to help them with their bag. He greets foreigners specially, as they are more likely to ask for their services or women alone traveling with a lot of baggage. At home, his wife works doing laundry for neighbors and their daughter works as a secretary. Life is hard and, sometimes, difficult to bare but they are fighters and never give up.
Inside, the many women and men handing tickets are specially busy. They have to be smiling every single minute of their work, trying to provide the best service possible. They are many hundreds of them as all airlines make use of checking counters, wether they have fifty stands or only one. Most of the workers are women, dedicated completely to the old art of traveling.
One of them, Adrienne, is working for he first time. Every time she came to the airport when she was young, it was a whole experience to see the many people working and the planes through the glass of the main corridor. She loved to wonder how many people were traveling and to what exotic destinations they were heading. She never traveled a lot to be honest, her family couldn't afford it. Her first time on a plane was for the school trip on her senior year.
Children like it specially when groups of pilots and flight attendants pass by. Their uniforms are so pretty and most of them look perfect, like real size dolls. They are greatly poised, carrying their wheeled bags, always matching the color of the bag with the uniform. And there are so many colors and shapes of uniforms, pending on the country of origin of the airlines.
Padma, for example, works for Air India and, as expected, her outfit represents her country everywhere she goes. It is a beautiful traditional sari. Its bright orange in color with a red and black scarf around her neck and black shoes complementing it. She is very proud of wearing those colors every single day to work as it represents the rich tradition she loves so much. Being born in Mumbai, she learned through her mother about the gastronomy and many other cultural aspects of her country. After finishing school, she traveled through all of India and then decided to become and air hostess in order to bring India to the world.
But the most interesting part of the airport is were all the passengers and crew members gather: the duty free area. A tiny mall inside the airport, the stores sell every single thing passengers may want to give as a present to their fellow travelers or to someone they are looking forward to meet when they finally get home or to work. The stores are never deserted, filled with the scent of thousands of perfumes, the voices of buyers and sellers and even the taste of many delicacies made for the inevitable need to eat and drink.
In one of the stores, Roger works selling small crafts for people to go home with. There are refrigerator magnets, smalls pieces made of wood or glass or plastic and many sweets and other traditional pastries. Roger likes when people want to taste the pastries in advance, wanting to know what they are bringing back home. It's a pleasure for him to promote the country, its traditions and even the values behind it all. But buyers often go straight to the magnets and that's not bad. He has many, funny and not so funny wants. Delicate and detailed or just simple. He sells them all.
Meanwhile, in one of the many fast food restaurants, works Felicia. She puts fires on the fryer and puts salt on them. She also pours the drinks and sometimes flips the burgers. The ambiance in a fast food kitchen can get very annoying, all hot and sticky and smelly. But its a "safe" job. People work there for as long as they like. No one really gets fired, unless they do something really gross or awful. Felicia likes it and hates it at the same time. She loves the pay, that simple. But she hates to smell like a burger all day long. And she hates it too because there's no way to go out and smoke. There is no out so she really has to wait all day to feed her need for a cigarette.
At the waiting rooms, other hard workers do their thing with people many times not even noticing them. They clean up the place, making it look decent, unspoiled and perfect. They pick up every single piece of paper, every candy wrap, old magazine left behind and many other objects passengers may leave around thinking the airport cleans itself. But it doesn't, an army of men and men work every single second to provide high higiene standards, specially in the bathrooms were people tend to be even more careless than usual.
There, cleaning one of the stalls in one of the many women bathrooms, is Clara. She's a big woman, capable of cleaning a big mirror in seconds with the help of her many work tools: liquids, sponges, rags and mops. She loves it when no one enters the bathroom when she's cleaning. She cannot block people from entering so most of the times it proves to be a difficult thing. But when no one comes near, she feels like singing and even dancing a bit while cleaning the floors. Clara likes it a lot when everything is nice and clean. That is because if she does her job right, she wins more money. And more money is a better life for her and her children. She's not married but has three kids to care for and they are her reason to live. And with her kind smile, she greets passengers when she's finished working.
The other army working at the airport is the one working below and outside. The many people helping bags getting to their planes, the security guards caring for the safety of everyone inside the terminal, the ones with the glowing sticks helping planes to their stands and even those with unique jobs, that no one really knows about.
Henry, for one, is in charge of the birds around the whole area of the airport. Yes, that's his job and he has a companion. A small hawk called Flash. Henry uses Flash in order to scare other birds and animals and make them clear the runways. If one of the those birds gets sucked by a turbine, they may cause a fatal accident and no one wants that to happen. So every single day, from dawn to dusk, Henry and Flash go around the airport on a small four wheeled transport. They have fun together, pulling the danger away from the runways, looking closely at how the planes land, filled with people glad to get home or to a new beginning.
That is the heart of the airport. The planes and the passengers traveling inside. It is them who make an airport what it actually is. And they are some many over the course of a single day. People sitting on a small or very large planes, bound to a city an hour away or another continent very far away. they may get to sleep or just to sit around for the duration of the flight. There are some many going through the airport, running even, as they are making a connection. Those people, although not spending a lot of their time, end to know what the airport experience is all about and that is bringing people together.
We have the example of the García family. Maria and Manuel married three years ago and now they have a new member on the family: her name is Emilia and she's only one year old. It's her first time traveling and its a long flight. She will be visiting her grandparents, uncles and cousins, who haven't yet met her, or maybe only through a webcam. She can't speak yet but she's thrilled by the prospect of a new experience. Although she doesn't know where she is, she knows its something different: the sounds, the smells, even things feel different.
Her parents are excited to. As soon as they sit down, they put on their seatbelts and take each other's hand. They have that custom and they are not letting it go no. They squeeze hands when the plane's door is finally closed and the craft begins to pull away from the airport.
That's how one airport story ends but, as we know, many more are still ongoing and many others are yet to come.