I have always looked with envy on those sitting in the rocking chairs at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) relaxing and chilling. While I am checking gate and departure times, wondering how fast the security line is moving and even thinking ahead to my next connection, many folks are enjoying the live music being played in the atrium and petting the relaxation dogs who wander by.
Just a few days ago, though, I was picking my wife up at the airport, and I had plenty of time. So I got to sit and watch people coming and going, listen to the music and simply “rock” while others looked on with envy.
Oh, I’ve been to plenty of airports with rocking chairs. They are usually all occupied. But not tonight. Tonight, I had plenty of time, there were plenty of chairs open, and plenty of people to watch.
When I got the text, “Just landed,” I replied, “I’m rockin'”
On the way home from the Orlando airport, I stopped at a McDonald’s on 436. (Yes, I know, two visits to McDonald’s in just a few months. Don’t worry; I worked it off.)
Not much of a line, not much of a wait. Order placed, money paid. One white car ahead of me at the pick-up window. Sweet. This won’t take long.
They get their drink and their bag, and they…just sit there. No movement. OK, maybe they are waiting for one more item. I’m in no hurry. How long could it be?
Much longer than I thought. Ten minutes later, with a line of at least a dozen cars behind me, no movement. Horns start beeping. People are getting out of their cars, looking to see what’s going on. One person gets out of his car and walks up to the car ahead of mine, looking in the window. Another guy demands his food from the payment window and roars off. I’m stuck in-between windows and can’t do that.
Now it’s been fifteen minutes, and still no movement. Won’t the car start? Have the people inside expired? Should we call 911? No one gets in or out of the cars, but suddenly, a blue car ahead of the motionless car, that I hadn’t seen before, guns it and squeals out into the road. The roadblocking white car keeps up, burning rubber out onto a busy 436.
So what was going on up there? Finishing up a phone call? Watching a video? An argument? Yelling at the kids? Simply oblivious to the world around them? Possibly all of the above. Just because they call it fast food doesn’t mean you’ll get out of there quickly.
You’ve been sitting in front of the TV for hours, watching the nonstop storm coverage on every local TV channel. You know every local news and weather personality. By first name. You’ve checked the weather radar on you phone…again. The storm is hundreds of miles away. You’ve done everything you can possibly do to get ready. The sky is clear, the winds are calm, the beer is cold, the gas cans are full, there’s no more room in your home for bottled water, and you are hunkered down.
Now what? Now what do you do?
You step outside. No rain. No wind. No storm.
You check your phone. No messages. No email.
You check the fridge. You’re not hungry, but that looks good. No one counts the calories of hurricane food. And a hurricane is coming. Why not?
The phone buzzes. A text! A hurricane warning. I know. I’m waiting. And waiting.
Waiting for a storm is hard. Maybe the hardest part. And everyone reminds you a storm is coming. Weather. Adolescence. Armageddon. Zombies. Whatever. We are always on the brink of apocalypse. But then the rain stops. The sun comes out. Peace is negotiated. The undead never arrive.
Must we constantly live on eve of destruction? Or can we simply enjoy a few moments of boring, unspectacular, predictable routine?