Monday, May 19, 2008

Chicken, Dodo, Pigeon?

People are an interesting sort. Have you ever been somewhere (a restaurant, mall, movie theater, or outdoor festival) and found yourself just watching? I often find myself doing this on a near subconscious level. Most often, I'll be sitting at an airport gate awaiting my next airplane ride. My headphones are in and my eyes glazed over. It may partially be due to the fact that normally my flights are early on Monday mornings, but I think not. I tend to be a morning person. Once I am awake, I am awake. And anyone that knows me knows that I notice things. Sometimes it's big things like who was at a meeting and how did we drive there. And sometimes it's little things like what people were wearing, or how many pencils and pens were on the table at the meeting and what color they were. So maybe my voyeuristic tendencies are just another part of my noticing things but I do see people...and they're not dead.

So back at the airport, I notice the 'seasoned businessman'. I do not identify with this group although I wear a shirt and tie, enjoy reading the Wall Street Journal, and get excited at the possibility of getting a seat in the exit row. There is the young family. Husband and wife clearly showing the signs of many sleepless nights and sporting their venti cups of morning juice. While their kids run around the waiting area and other passengers hope that they won't be sitting near them. I see the 'girlfriends'. They are young twenty-somethings who don't stop talking and flipping the pages of the resent issue of Cosmo looking for tips on how to better themselves. And there are 'the geriatrics'. The older folks shuffle around the airport smelling of soup and medicated lotion and ride either in wheelchairs pushed by underpaid airport aides or in carts cruising through the airport with the driver shouting and honking their horn for you to yield. But what would society be if all were alike?

I was walking to my gate this Monday after passing through the TSA checkpoint. I continue down a wide hallway with several other people. I tend to walk quickly and so do not normally pace myself with others. Most people adhere to the 'rules of the road' and stay to the right. But there are always dissidents. I see a woman about 20 yards ahead of me. We make eye contact and are on a direct collision course. Neither of us diverge from our path. As we get closer, I go right. And she goes left. Then I go left. And she goes right. As this short dance seems to continue, I stop. I let her choose a path and pass me without further confusion. I get to my gate and find a seat. I began to reflect on my near encounter. When two people do this with their cars, bikes, or motorcycles it is intentional and we call it chicken. What do you call it when to people do this while walking and it's unintentional? Perhaps Dodo, or Pigeon.

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