Those of you on facebook know that I've been spending a lot of time at the airport lately. The winter months are considered high season here and a lot more tourists come to visit this time of year. As a way to make extra money, Ibis sometimes sends me to the airport to pick up guests, and we also bring them back at the end of their stay. We charge less than the taxis so the guests get a deal and we get extra money.
The first time I stepped into the airport with my hand-written sign, I was nervous. Would the people see me? Would the real taxi drivers yell at me for stealing their business (something I'm still careful about...)? Would they expect me to haul their luggage to the car? Then there's the fact that we don't have air conditioning, but so far no one has complained.
Despite my nervousness, it's always gone smoothly (knock on wood) and I usually have a pleasant conversation with the guests. Sometimes we talk about the area, occasionally we end up discussing writing (I swear I try not to!), and yesterday we talked about the changing economy. I often don't see these people again, but for ten minutes they're my new friends. There are a few people that I do see repeatedly, and many of those guests have become our friends. One couple that we met last year brought me M&Ms and a new Sudoku book, while others have taken us out to dinner. We even had one woman join us for a night out with my dad before my mom and sister arrived.
But they aren't the main reason for this post - this actually ties back into writing. You see, when I'm standing at the gate with my much more professional looking printed sign, I get to watch people. Families, groups of friends, solo travelers - they stream through the sliding glass doors with a slightly dazed look on their face, most of them trying to act like they know where they're going. The repeat visitors do, and it's easy to pick them out, but most of them stumble into the heat in their jeans and zip-up hoodies, their eyes glazing over when they see all the taxi drivers shouting for their business.
Ibis' hotel seems to attract a certain type of traveler. I'd rate it a 2-3 star place; it's a great location with full kitchens, but it's certainly not a 5-star hotel. The people who choose to stay there tend to be a little more laid back, borderline quirky, and never come loaded down with twenty suitcases. As the travelers step towards me, I try to guess who will turn out to be John Smith (the names are never that normal), and I make up stories for everyone who walks past me. Some smile when they see me watching me, while others breeze past, in a hurry to get to the waiting shuttle. (My guests never breeze.)
I love watching them and guessing where they're from, what they do back home, and what their relationships are with the people around them. One group that stands out is a family I saw recently: two parents and three kids, all decked out in trendy/borderline goth type clothes. All I could think is those poor kids are going to sweat in all those clothes, and their carefully planned pale skin is going to fry! I like to imagine them playing on the beach, the pretense slowing slipping away, all smiles by the end of their stay.
I haven't brought a notebook yet, but these travelers are all in my head, knocking their suitcases against each other, looking for the beach.
Oh, and most people turn me down when I offer to take their bags, but I do try to help get it into the trunk. Usually the men smirk at my 5'1" self and toss the bags in themselves.