Sunday, September 27, 2015

People at airports

(I should be hustling but this is way more fun.)

Though I should know better than that, a comment I read on facebook pissed me off. The original post involved photos of Syed Azmi, Malaysia’s best known do-gooder (I mean that as a compliment), making the rounds at an airport in the wee hours of the night (morning?) and leaving snacks and drinks beside everyone who was asleep there.

The commenter asked why he would do that when surely there were poor people in the city who were more deserving of his charity than the “rich people” at the airport.

So it was like EXCUSE ME how poor are you supposed to be that airports bar you from entering??

(I’m writing this here because blogs are like the original soapboxes of the internet, by the way.)

The main thing about local flights is that early arrival times must be preceded by early departure times, which are preceded by even earlier airport arrivals. The earliest ever I’ve been at klia2 was 4 AM.

Amazingly, the place was packed. There were bodies on every available space. Strangers shared couches and chairs in cafes that had closed for the night. White people and Asian people huddled in corners, footwear carelessly tossed aside. Nepalese and Indian workers, likely waiting for their employment agents, had taken over the waiting area inside the bus terminal. Everyone was asleep.

No, it was not like a zombie movie, because there were people who were awake. Like us, and other passengers. And the workers manning the 24-hour eateries. And the cleaners.

My long-winded point is: airports aren’t the sole domain of the “rich”. I imagine that actual rich people have their own jets, private airfields even, so saying there aren’t any poor people in airports is na├»ve at best.

Also? There are poor people everywhere. The same way you can’t identify a psychopath or homosexual on sight alone, poor people aren’t always raggedy and smelly and don’t always look hungry. And I’m sure we’ve all heard the story of the man in worn clothing who buys luxury items in cash.

If I met that commenter, I might ask him if he’s ever been to an airport himself, and whether he’s ever seen an actual poor person in the wild. I might also advise him to stop watching TV serials, which tend to paint everything with the sort of broad strokes that wouldn’t be out of place in a kindergarten.

*I slept at Perth Airport a few years ago. Enfant Terrible and I had flown there in the morning for the On The Bright Side Festival (12 hours of music! Red Rooster fries! Meat pies [bleagh]!) and were to fly right back after that. A bus driver from the morning recognized us (!) and was perfectly nice, assuring us that security wouldn’t kick us out into the Australian winter. We slept on the benches, though the floor might have been more comfortable. We weren’t the only ones there.

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