The morning traffic was already terrible. Everything was hectic — I saw two car accidents and three lane closures in the first 30 kilometers. When we pull into LAX, however, a familiar calming scene of busy folk, families, executives and vacationers saturate my senses as we unload our luggage.
I turn to watch some of them hug family, take some last pictures, and even some sprint through the doors; I hear some a cappella, crying in Korean and a stuttering German, and I think about the true melting pots of the world: airports.
These international travel hubs mix refugees with businessmen, Canadian with Japanese, foreign with domestic, professors with toddlers. And everyone goes on peacefully.
I read a sign advertising frequent flyer miles. I think to myself, do they have a significant customer base for buying frequent flyer miles? This game of liquidity and benefits intrigues me throughout the entire check-in process and even through security.
Why do we stay loyal to an airline? How do businessmen account for lost hours on the plane? Where is the cutoff for profiting on international commerce for businesses?
I try to find somewhere to settle down before I have to board in an hour; a green coffee shop (not Starbucks) catches my eye. The aroma of caramel, French roast, Earl Grey, biscuits and chocolate tease me as I choose a seat facing the window and the planes beyond. Their coordination seems as elegant as their pricing models; seemingly simple yet inexplicably layered in complex calculations.
My flight to London takes off smoothly; the iconic “Flower Duet” by Lakmé comes on (good old British Airways), and here the journey was timeless. I’ve always found long flights interesting — it’s a microcosm of relaxation. I can watch movies at 2 a.m., take a nap in the afternoon, munch on snacks at midnight.
The couple to my left are infatuated with their card games. The toddler behind me is constantly giggling. Dozing off, I realize the impermanence of time.
From eating to reading the newspaper to preparing for the coming year, I realize that those experiences can never be relived. I will never be able to go through that time again, nor will I see something the exact same way I saw it an hour ago. And that’s why our bonds are so special; they come from shared experiences, understanding that each of us is flawed, and embracing our mistakes in our journey to human greatness.