The People You Meet

George looked at his watch. It was five o’clock. He had a couple of hours to kill before his flight took off, and by the look of the weather outside he had a feeling it was going to be delayed soon. It had been raining nonstop since early that morning, and it was supposed to turn to hail in a few hours. He walked down to the airport food court and stopped in at the bar. It was cleaner than most airport bars that he had been to. There were a few tables set up around the room with a long bar against the back wall. There was several plasma televisions set up around the place. There were two set up behind the bar showing two different football games, and there were two others at either end of the room showing two different movies. There was one empty seat at the end of the bar. It was next to a young woman who seemed to be alone. She was wearing a pair of jeans and a green turtleneck sweater. Her dark brown hair was pulled up into a high ponytail. A few strands fell down across her bright green eyes. She was reading a worn out copy of a book that didn’t have a front cover. The state of the book made George think that she had read the book a few hundred times before hand. She paused only to look at her watch, or to look up when somebody yelled at the football game on the television. She only shifted slightly in her seat when George sat beside her.George opened up his briefcase and pulled out his laptop. He thought it was better to make his time waiting useful and catch up on work. He ordered a beer and started working on an article for his editor. About an hour passed as he sat at the bar working and he was only interrupted when the young woman next to him knocked over her glass when she reached for it absentmindedly. She sent the beverage flying towards him and his laptop. He reached for it in time and saved it from the liquid, but unfortunately most of his papers soaked up the drink.“Oh my God! I am so sorry!” She yelled as she put down her book and moved to help him clean up the mess. They both grabbed a few napkins and began to mop up the drink.“It’s really no big deal, I saved my laptop, and that’s really all that mattered. If that had been destroyed then we would have had a big problem.” George joked, “It’s really not a problem. It’s only a few papers.”“This happens to me all the time. I honestly believe that I’m one of the clumsiest people in the world. Everywhere I go I manage to knock over something. Oh dear, I don’t think this one could be salvaged.” She motioned to a sopping piece of paper that used to be his notes for the article he was working.“Not a problem, I didn’t need that anyway.” He cringed when she wasn’t looking when he thought about how much of his work had just been washed away by a glass of beer.Finally a few more napkins later the spill was gone, along with most of George’s notes that didn’t make it.“You have to let me buy you a drink,” she said after throwing away the last napkin.“That’s not necessary, and I have a lot of work to get to.”“Please? I still feel so bad! And plus, I just destroyed most of your work, how much can you possibly have left?” She smiled at him, and he felt himself give away.“Ok, but one drink. Just don’t spill this one.”They both laughed and she smiled as she turned towards the bartender and ordered two more beers.“My name is Anna, by the way.” They both shook hands as they sipped their beers.“Hi, Anna. I’m George.”“Lovely to meet you George! So, what brings you here?”“Oh, I troll around airports looking for vulnerable young girls who are traveling alone,” He said with a completely blank expression. She looked shocked and her eyes got really wide, but then she started laughing, which made George to laugh.“No. I’m joking, obviously. No, I’m here because I’m a journalist and I’m going to Washington to cover a story about a new bill that Congress is proposing this weekend.”“Well that sounds incredibly exciting, George.”“Yeah, it’s not the most adventurous of jobs, but I love it anyway. What about you? What brings you to the great O’Hare airport?”“Actually I’m going home. I live in New York. I was visiting my sister for Christmas. Well actually, I’m just staying with my parents for a few weeks before I start traveling again”“Oh? Where are you going, if you don’t mind me asking?”“Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo, more specifically.”“Really? Why on Earth would you go there?”“Well, I’m a doctor. I work with Doctor’s Without Borders.”“My God. So you’re one of those people that care, and go out and save people then?”She laughed then replied, “Yes, I’m one of ‘those people’. I’ve been working for them for a couple years now.”“Wow. So where else have you been?”“Well, let’s see. The first place I ever went was Cambodia. I was so nervous. I didn’t speak a word of Khmer, which is the language they speak, and there were only a couple translators. Then after that I went to Malaysia, then Philippines, Micronesia, what used to be Yugoslavia and is now Croatia, and then I traveled to the other side of the world to Haiti, Trinidad, Grenada, Nicaragua, and Belize. And now I’m off to another continent.”“Wow, and I thought I traveled a lot. So how long do you usually stay for?”“Well, it varies. Sometimes it’s a few weeks, sometimes a few months. I think the longest I stayed somewhere was in Haiti. I think I spent about a year there. What about you? What was the longest trip you took?”“I stayed in Italy for three months once.”“Really? When was that?”“The summer before my sophomore year of college. My dad and all of his family are from around Venice so I went to visit them and I worked as well. I had a lot of fun. I haven’t really been out of the country that much since I started working though. I never seem to be able to find the time.”“That’s funny, cause I can never seem to find the time to just stay at home! This break was one of very few that I get.”“That probably gets tiring.”“You have no idea! I mean I love my job, don’t get me wrong. I’ve met so many different and interesting people, but sometimes I wonder if I would’ve preferred a normal life. A life where I have a husband, kids, and a job from 9-5, but then I realize how the life I’m living now has pretty much made me. I have experienced so many different things in my life that I don’t think I could ever change it.”“I see what you mean. I could never imagine working somewhere in an office all day. I need to be out talking to people and just constantly doing something, but to be honest you probably beat me out for the amount of adventure you see everyday. Speaking of adventure, have you actually seen battles or anything like that?”“Actually, yes. I was in Yugoslavia in the middle of the civil war and it was 1998. I was outside in one of the tents that we had set up and I was giving this old woman stitches because she had been caught up in some of the fighting and had been hurt, but not too badly. It was an incredibly hot day out, and I remember that out of nowhere I was overcome with this indescribable feeling. I couldn’t understand it, I just felt weird. I remember the old woman started rapidly muttering in a language I didn’t understand, and then she started getting louder and louder, but I ignored her. I just stopped what I was doing and looked up. There was a post office across the street from where we were. I remember just staring at it and just trying to figure out exactly what it was that I was feeling. I was just staring at this building not paying attention to anything that was going on around me when all of a sudden I felt as if I was being enveloped in sound, and I felt this big whoosh of air fly past me, and then I was lifted off the ground and blasted back about 20 feet.”George’s eyes widened in shock. “Oh my God, that’s insane.”“Yes, it was quite terrifying. I think I was actually knocked out for a few minutes. When I came to I looked around me and everything was just a mess. There were pieces of stone and metal everywhere, I had no idea where the old woman was. I tried to stand, but I felt an incredibly painful sting in my right leg and I realized that a piece of metal that came from the blast had sliced it. It wasn’t that deep, but it made it pretty difficult to walk. It was strange, because I had always only ever seen the after effects of violence; I had never actually seen something like that with my own eyes. It was pretty extraordinary.”“I couldn’t even imagine something like that happening to me. The most violence I ever get to see is when a senator might get a little overheated during debate and yells a little louder than normally. You live an incredibly interesting life, Anna.”“Yes, I do, I suppose,” she looked at her watch, “And actually, I have to get going to that interesting life because I’m supposed to be boarding my flight right now.”She stood up and collected her coat and put her book into her bag.“Well, George, it was lovely meeting you.” She extended her hand towards his.“And you as well.” He took her hand and shook it.She turned and left the bar walking towards her gate. George smiled and thought about how interesting the people you meet in airports are.

The People You Meet


Pearl River, United States

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Artist's Description

A Man. A Plan. A Canal. Panama.

This is weak.

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