I love Seattle airport. I love it even more when it's crowded and there are no empty tables available to sit and eat your Mexican Gumbo. No really, I'm serious. When the dining area is full, it means I'll have to ask someone if I can share their pre-occupied round table, which means I'll get a chance to meet someone new.
My first victim was a seasoned traveler, about my age, who had hints of a slight "hippie" styling (evidenced by the hemp necklace peeking through his conservative Polo shirt), although obviously traveling for business.
"Do you mind if I share your table?" I asked. He welcomed me immediately, "Absolutely! Grab a seat". Within 60 seconds I knew he worked for Roland Musical instruments, had traveled to Japan in the 80's, has been all over the world, and loved the art of travel and meeting people. The elder woman at the table nextdoor overheard us talking about Japan and volunteered that her brother spent time in Japan and had misunderstood warning signs at the beach which resulted in jellyfish stings completely covering and disguising his face. She smiled, "He learned a lot that summer!"
The three of us shared a few more stories before my tablemate made his exit and bid me safe travels. The woman also said "goodbye" to him and complimented, "How nice to see someone who really enjoys traveling!" She and I continued to share travel stories for a few more minutes until another young lady asked to share my table. "Absolutely!" I said, "Grab a seat.".
She immediately asked where I was traveling to, and I told her my short story. "Where are you off to?", I asked her. "I work here, so nowhere today." she said with a forced smile. "I've been to Colorado, but that's about it." She was quiet for a moment. "I studied business in college and learned about the Japanese and Mexican business cultures. Mexicans seem a lot more laid back." She seemed satisfied with her conclusion.
I smiled, "It does seem that way. When the 5 o'clock bell rings, however, the Japanese sure know how to party!". "Really?!" she said, pausing from her pizza seemingly surprised, "They seem so...reserved". I laughed a little and thought to myself, "people can surprise you if you take the time to get to know them". We talked a little more about family, kids, and the comfort of small towns vs. the amenities in big towns. She finished her pizza and said, "Gotta get back to work! Have a great trip!"
Just as she walked away, a family of 4 stood longingly next to my table, scanning the area, looking for seats, "Would you like to sit here?", I asked. "Really?", the mother looked somewhat surprised. "Absolutely!" I said, "Grab a seat".