Working At The Airport Becomes Sociology Lesson
This story, as told by Heidi Anthony, is part of an oral history series.
I started working at Miami International Airport in 1988. My mind was young and impressionable and clueless.
I was a public service assistant and I was to provide information to the many lost people who happened upon my information counter located in the heart of the airport. Every day, thousands of passengers from around the world use MIA. Through the years, I have met celebrities, backpackers, thieves, a Tibetan monk and, quite often, homeless people. They all have a story to tell.
I did not start out thinking I was going to see the airport as a classroom of all things people. With time I started noticing people. I looked at their clothes, luggage, hairstyles, the shape of their face and most of all, the way they communicated. I was in a comparative studies class of human societies and the global movement of people. Get a bag of popcorn and a box of Goobers and you’ve got entertainment! Sometimes it’s better than the movies!
I developed a game I started to play and still play today. When I see a passenger I try to guess where they are from judging from the way they are dressed and the luggage they are using. It is difficult to distinguish between the Midwesterners and the Germans, especially when they are wearing Birkenstocks. Italians usually wear very colorful Benetton-looking clothing and luggage. You can always tell people who are new to traveling. They have on brand-new clothes. It is hilarious to watch women walk in their five-inch heels and disco shirts as they struggle to make a half-mile trek to their connecting gate carrying their luggage.
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