The good old airport. Or as I like to call it, an actual living nightmare. We’ve all been to one, and if you haven’t because of a crippling fear of flying, let me break it down for you. The airport is essentially made up of a collection of strangers who are all about to be trapped on a long tube hurtling through the sky. If the tube were to crash, the results would be catastrophic. However, most of the time it doesn’t, so instead you have a bunch of people who don’t even realise they’re in a heightened emotional state, with somewhere to be, sometimes with kids, often sleep deprived, paying $16 for the worst sandwich they’ve ever eaten in their life, all while trying to convince security that they’re not carrying an explosive device. Speaking of which, why do we have to take our jackets off when we walk through the X-ray machine? It’s an X-ray! Can’t it see through the jacket?
The airport is a mix of luxury and necessity, and so the combination of people and behaviours you encounter can be enough to trigger 200 EPM (eyerolls per minute). It’s not uncommon to see people rushing towards their departure gate with a McDonald’s bag flapping in the breeze, having held up an entire plane full of people just because they couldn’t resist a Big Mac. Rude. Then you’ve got middle-aged men wearing wraparound Oakley sunglasses who take nearly 15 minutes putting their luggage in the overhead compartment because they’re trying not to squash the 12-pack of Krispy Kreme doughnuts they’ve bought. Also, be sure not to upset the entitled businesswoman who makes you feel like a monster for sitting next to her in your assigned seat, the old man with horrible breath who has a story to tell, and the smug looks of the boomers up front in business class on a domestic flight.
If the long lines to the bathroom weren’t enough to put you off ever leaving your postcode, there’s also the constant fear of missing your flight. And don’t forget the subsequent three-hour wait when you arrive ridiculously early.
Once you’ve reached your destination, you get to the worst of the worst: the people who really, really want their bags more than anyone else. Since they’ve decided to wait so close to the baggage carousel, no-one else can reach their suitcase because they’ve completely obscured everyone’s vision and ability to access them! Aargh! What can you do? Here’s some friendly advice…
The thing is – and I really don’t want you to think that I’m trying to come off as holier-than-thou because, believe me, I’m the worst offender for being frustrated at people at the airport, but – we need to remember we don’t know what other people are going through. Every time I’m at the airport, I find myself looking around thinking, well I know why I’m here, but what the hell are you doing here? And sometimes the reason you’re at the airport is a good one, but sometimes it’s because something bad has happened.
After many years on the road as a comedian, I’ve realised the only way to get through airports without losing my mind is by trying to imagine the inner lives of the people who recline their seats during a one-hour flight, because you never know if they’ve been up all night with their sick mum and this flight was their only chance to get in a quick nap before returning to work or family life. In order to free myself from the constant frustration, I’ve learnt to view people with compassion, as opposed to how I initially saw them: as self-centred, khaki-short-wearing, Krispy Kreme-carrying, Scott Morrison-voting gronks, whose only mission in this life was to annoy me, the main protagonist of the airport, Becky Lucas.
Catch Becky Lucas at the Sydney Comedy Festival from May 13 to 17; visit sydneycomedyfest.com.au. This article originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of marie claire.