Observations from a Frequent Traveler: Human Instinct

I am a people observer. That shouldn’t surprise any of my friends – I watch and observe everything. I don’t necessarily notice the physical – such as what someone is wearing, or the color of their hair or eyes. No, I notice emotions, tempers, attitudes, expressions, body language, actions and behaviors. Being a frequent traveler, the hobby comes in handy – it serves as entertainment yet also has resulted in hours of reflection and contemplation. As a human race, why do we do what we do? As an individual, what makes each of us instinctively react?

Under most circumstances, when traveling we may never see the same people again and if we do, who would really remember? We may cross paths constantly but never even realize it. And if we do and decide to strike up a conversation, does it really matter if we like each other? We probably aren’t going to become friends outside of the airport. For that reason, we can be ourselves completely – good or bad.

I believe when people are traveling they are not trying to impress or to be something that they are not. They are who they are in route to the next task, adventure or show. Some people are the same at everything they do, others are on a stage and perform and have those moments when they are not on stage but are simply in route to the next performance – figuratively speaking.

After years of observation, I’ve drawn the conclusion that behaviors of airline travelers reveal the true heart of a person. I’ve also concluded there are two kinds of people: one who genuinely puts others first and one who puts themselves first.

Think about it for a moment. How many times have you seen someone rush into a line – elbowing their way, not making eye contact and cutting off someone just so they can get in line ahead of one other person? What about the person that stands in the middle of the aisle on a plane sorting through their suitcase while the rest of the plane is waiting behind them to board? Or during deplaning, the person that was on an aisle in a row behind and walks past people who are trying to get out of their row – that one really bugs me. Or the person who takes the seat by the window or aisle and they don’t legitimately have rights to that seat yet they refuse to move. I’ve seen them laugh it off, make a joke – but ultimately they don’t move. Parents who have children who have noisy games and they don’t require headphones. I’ve heard them say, “at least they are quiet and not crying.” They assume everyone will understand. I can continue with stories of poor etiquette for an entire book and so can you, but the action itself is not the primary focus. It’s what it represents that I am interested in at the moment.

There are those that naturally and genuinely allow other people in front of them and not only ensure that proper etiquette is followed, but go above and beyond with kindness. These people generally don’t think about it – it’s natural. Unfortunately, those that push their way on others don’t generally think about it either – it’s natural for them as well.

This goes back to the heart of the matter – the heart. I believe when I look into the eyes of those that are generally kind, they reveal pure joy, happiness, peace and contentment. The opposite is true also – those that are selfish and put themselves first generally reveal discontent, arrogance, defiance or other negative feelings. This saddens me. For those that share my same faith, then this is expected of you (and me) – it’s a calling – and shame on you (and me) if it isn’t our instinct.

My challenge to everyone is to make a difference where you are today. Slow down, let someone in front of you for no other reason than you are being kind and putting another before your own need. This is a challenge for all of us – but especially to those that don’t generally put others needs first. I know that we all do sometimes – when it’s calculated and convenient. This time, do it all day for no other reason than you choose to be nice. See how many days you can go with putting others first. I believe you will be a changed person, have an incredible experience and will make a positive impact on your world.
Comments regarding your travels and observations welcomed and encouraged!

1 comment:

Leslie said...

Oh how true it is. Interesting to see people while they travel. I think I share your joy of people watching. I do the same. Also I share many of your same opinions as far as traveling go. I do think that if people are rude and offensive, it carries over to every aspect of their life. The kind ones have good hearts, and their kindness goes through everything as well.

Having little kids, when we travel, I try really hard to keep them in check. So far, we have had very good flights. Ours tend to be longer, being that we are in S. America. But still, I do what I can to be courteous to others. I wish more people could do the same. :)

I don't have anything else to add, I think you did a good job covering it!