Sunday, December 7, 2008

Strangers In Airports

People are unusual, sometimes downright strange.

I don't consider myself an overly-sensivitive individual. Sensitive, maybe...but sensitive to the point where I'm offended when someone uses curse words, hardly. Provided I know them and they know me that is.

I just sat on the shuttle bus from the F gates in the Philadelphia airport to the B-C-D (are there no E gates in Philly? Or maybe they're just so close to F you're better off walking. I don't know.) and since the bus was crowded, I had the opportunity to be pretty intimate with the passenger sitting on my lap. He was a gregarious sort, not snobby or pretentious and seemed pretty down to earth, but our conversation start with the epitath "F*ckin' Philly airport".

While I may be an introvert, I'm not adept at avoiding conversations. (Weird, eh?) So I engaged him in some banter about the pros and cons of the various airports that make up the hubs for US Airways' east coast operations. (Laguardia is my personal favorite, despite all-to-frequent ATC delays, followed by Philadelphia, despite having to have at least an hour layover in order to make any connection if you're going to or from the F-gates, and finally National, I hate Gate 35 which is really only barely above mass chaos.)

What struck me most during the course of our conversation was he repeated use of words that were probably made most famous by George Carlin. Now, I swear. I curse. I have friends who swear and curse. But a stranger? It seemed off-putting. How did he know I wouldn't be offended? Did he not care if someone was unimpressed with his vocabulary? Personally, I would never consider swearing to a stranger. I just wouldn't want that to be my first impression. Plus, you never know when you'll run into them again - trust me, the world's much smaller than it seems.

Maybe I wouldn't have noticed if it was just once. Or twice. But his use of these colorful adverbs and adjectives (he used them interchangably) was continuous. I was actually thankful to disengage from the conversation when the bus arrived at the B-C-D gates and we all exited. Now, I might have been thankful anyway - just 'cause I don't particulary care for strangers, but I was especially thankful in this case.

"What did people sitting around us think?" I wondered. "Did they assume that we don't know any better? Or that we were chums? Do I care?" I wonder alot of things...this shouldn't surprise anyone who knows me. At the very least, I'd rather leave people feeling I had something of value to offer during the course of a conversation - an insight, a unique observation. Not that I have a massive use of curse words and an inability to determine an appropriate time and place to use them.

Am I crazy? Probably. But at least I didn't curse.

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