I spent an hour or so on a soft, comfortable chair outside Starbucks in Amsterdam as I sipped my chai latte, sent emails, & checked Facebook.
Then I wandered over to my gate to find no seating. I don’t mean that the chairs were full. I mean, there were no chairs.
So I had to find another spot to sit not too far away. Several small chairs were occupied by people hiding under blankets. Finally I saw a spot at a table intended for people who are charging their electronic devices. I tried to occupy about an hour there, keeping an eye on Gate D7. When more people seemed to be gathering at the gate, I made my way over.
Right away I sensed Ugandan culture all around me.
A group of kids were off in a corner playing and organizing exercises well outside the grasp of their parents. (I mean seriously, at one point they were lying on the ground in a row, counting out sit-ups) I don’t think they all knew each other prior to arriving at Gate D7.
There wasn’t exactly a line as much as a mass of people moving slowly and very close together towards the goal.
A young woman noticed an elderly man behind her and respectfully suggested that he move in front of her. When he denied the offer she clearly felt uncomfortable, as if she was not honoring him like she should.
No one was in a rush, not even the airport employees.
Despite many indicators, most people were unprepared to go through security (you know: belts, jackets, laptop, etc.). It made me wonder if an hour would be enough time for the ever-growing mass of people casually marching behind me to make it onto the plane.
Yet, people seemed quite patient and content. I didn’t notice irritation in anyone around me.
Oh, and there is some seating at Gate D7…but it is after you go through security. So, those chairs are never really used because once you go through security you can board the plane directly.
As I write this up in my notebook, I can’t help but notice that the plane feels very empty & the stream of passengers joining me is quite sporadic.
I was hoping that maybe 14A next to me would remain open so I would have a little extra space to spread out for the next seven hours. But a very pleasant middle-aged Ugandan man, from Texas ended up taking his seat, and we enjoyed each other’s company between attempts to sleep.
I could overhear other conversations throughout the flight of people becoming friends with the once strangers sitting around them.
Oh, the captain just came on to say that we will be about 15 minutes or so behind schedule. It appears that security at the gate took a bit longer than expected.