While I probably should be in bed like my roommate Molly, I am actually pretty wired despite not having slept for more than 25 hours. Yay jet lag!
As I was going about my roughly-twenty-something transit today, I found myself switching to my “travel mode.” This basically consists of four things: coffee, smiling, checking everything twice, and coffee. Despite what common sense would have me do, I decided not to sleep a single wink from the moment I woke up Wednesday to the moment I lay my head down on Thursday (today). This meant I drank gratuitous amounts of complimentary coffee, something my bowels were not happy about.
Yet during this 20+ hour caffeine craze, I found myself becoming more observant. I started to eavesdrop on conversations around me, I read 500 pages of A Song of Ice and Fire, and I even noticed the blue-eyed girl who smiled at me on the airport tramway.
One thing I observed above all else however was the environment of being in transit. When people are mid-flight, mid-layover, or even mid-customs, it seems they become a grand mixture of all the colors of the human personality spectrum. It seems as if every one has his or her own specs that define their “travel mode,” and each displays it differently. During my transit today, I had a very nice conversation with a stewardess about the confining nature of airplanes, lamented my custom worries to a friendly bystander in the Johannesburg airport, and even fist-bumped the guy sitting next to me on my Atlanta flight, who was on his way to Ohio.
There are times where I run into the impatient tramway occupant who has to shove every person out of his or her way, and times when I encounter a passenger who can’t seem to stop complaining about the service. Those I actively try to avoid.
For those I don’t avoid, I find that “travel mode” can really bring out a wide variety of people, and it always excites me to be a part of the traveling environment. Even as I write this in my room in a Jesuit house in Johannesburg, I am filled with a lot of positive memories of the people I met today, the kind of people I wouldn’t normally meet otherwise.
Sometimes travel mode involves a fist-bump from an Ohioan, other times it means sharing a beer with a Graphic Design major on a train to Denver, and even occasionally it can be a long conversation about the nature of the technology industry with a fellow gate-mate.
Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, or the 12th cup of coffee I had a few hours ago, or the excitement of being in a completely new city where my accommodation includes electric fences with hit-or-miss electricity, but I gotta say this whole traveling thing is pretty awesome.