Hot but not home.

Yesterday my typical route to work was wrapped in a web of construction.  Visions from the cover of the childhood book “Gulliver’s Travels” came to mind as I crept through traffic, slowly approaching the giant collauge of a snafu, consisting of detour signs, orange mangled cones and beeping construction trucks.  Like all the other lemmings in their cars paying homage to the Saint Lane-Widening I crept along at less then walking speed.

At one point I opted to create my own detour and ended up rolling past the Grand Rapids JW Marriott. Knowing there is a Starbuck’s just inside the front door I opted to treat myself for being so cleaver about avoiding further delay and pulled in for a “tall, dark & no room”.  The instant I walked in I noticed it was different then the other coffee shops in town.  Not so much the decor, the aroma’s or the product offering but the other patrons that were there.

Most of the them had a wheeled carry on in tow and a media phone in their hands.  Yet none of them were looking at them.  They all instead were looking at each other and me.  There was this unspoken language being shared: questions like where are you from? How long are you away from home? What are you doing here? Did you sleep like crap like I did?

I’m sure it’s just me projecting my own feeling into the situation but I first detected this phenomena 10 years or so ago (when air travel was actually a treat) sitting in airports waiting for connecting flights.  I saw a look in the eyes, a feeling on the faces of the other travelers.  I couldn’t help began to formulate this belief that probably 80% of those in my visual range did not want to be there.  They all looked exhausted, anxious and ready for the whole experience to be over.

The JW Marriott (right) and Amway Grand Plaza (left) on the Grand River in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

This awareness hit me again that morning at the JW.  This isn’t the case in other coffee shops around town, where the sence of community abounds.  You run into people you know and share greetings and abbreviated updates on your life, smile, shake hands and are off only to repeat the same thing on the next day.

In the hotel coffee shop I couldn’t help but wonder if those there were just killing time before their next engagement, wanting to obtain something that they are familiar with to somehow shorten the distance between them and home or just in need of a good coffee.

This is perhaps more reveling about me then it is a true insight worth blogging about but next time your in an airport, take a second and look deeply into the eyes of the other travelers…and see what they are really seeing.

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