Monday, 1 October 2018

Thought Picnic: Conveyors of character

Show yourself
Frequent travel brings you in contact to different people from all walks of life that without probing and conversation, it is impossible if you are not clairvoyant to determine where they are from, what they do and why they are travelling.
Yet, I think there is one place where expression and impression are so profoundly displayed. It is not in sometimes drunken boarding of flights, garrulous or intemperate behaviour or even the basic social graces.
At baggage reclaim
The best observation point is the conveyor belt at baggage reclaim, it is as much as the revelation of character as any. The ones who gather at the entry point of baggage when the conveyor belt is switched on. As if their baggage would run away from them.
The parents with kids that are out of control, who clamber over the belts before they start and attempt to drag off luggage well beyond their physical capabilities. This, despite the sign that the conveyor belt is not a playground. If one were to read more into the situation of unruly kids in a public place, you can only wonder what happens at home.
Just as the conveyor belt starts, watch the ones who literally ignore you, if not shove you aside to get at their luggage without a word about their uncouth behaviour. Or the ones who get their luggage and don’t immediately move out of the way for others.
And your character
The conveyor belt is in motion, the luggage moves around and comes back again except if by happenstance it gets picked up by another passenger, though that rarely happens. Wherever you stand, it would eventually get to where you’re standing. If you have to pull off more than one and are not fast enough to get to it, it would come around again, it would not end up in a black hole, never to be seen again.
At least, one would think in the West, there is more safety for person and luggage, not to have to stress oneself at the conveyor belt. I can never understand the rush to retrieve your luggage if you’re being picked up until you've made it out to the arrivals halls, you really have not yet arrived. You might well be detained at immigration.
Is revealed
What the conveyor belt scenario reveals of character can be deep and interesting, from the disorganised to the untrusting, from the impatient to the harried, from the rude to the uncultured, from the nasty to the atrocious. Amongst these, you can still find gems of humanity, patient, helpful, friendly, courteous, disciplined, informative and just nice.
Being a frequent traveller does bring you in contact with a broad stratum of society, some members, you’ll rather not meet anywhere again.


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