Survivor: O.R. Tambo Airport

I’ve been here a long time. Too long. Travellers who came here after me have already landed at their destinations. Still I wait.

I’ve been here a long time. I’ve seen the duty shift change. New guards watch as I wander with no destination in mind. New servers ply their wares as I drift past. “No thanks,” I say. I already ate. Twice.

I’ve been here a long time. Crisp morning air sublimated as the highveld sun warmed the earth and air outside. Not that I ever felt that. Inside the terminal silent heaters wilt every living thing here, baking us into a fetid, teeming mass.

It’s been nearly 8 hours now, that I’ve been trapped here at O.R. Tambo, recreating myself as Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg’s 2004 flick, Terminal. My flight only leaves in another three hours.

I’ve been here a long time. Long enough to know all the junk sold in the kiosks. Long enough to have used at least four rest rooms. The most jocund restroom attendant, Justice, stationed near the food court is a man whose spirit is not thwarted by his daily entrapment in this building. He seems more proud of his workplace than any person I’ve ever met claiming they’ve landed their dream job. What is his secret? Stockholm Syndrome? Maybe.

I’ve been here a long time. I’ve tried catching an earlier flight, but today is not my lucky day. So I wander the terminal like a hobo, unfocussing my eyes to the sights I cannot escape.

I’ve been here a long time. There are precious few chairs for the inert traveller to use. I suspect that’s done on purpose, to drive us into the gaudy eateries and coffee shops. No sitting for free. No loitering. Make like you mean business, and pay your share, dammit! So I’ve snuck into international arrivals, and am sat here next to my cling-wrapped luggage, looking for all the world like I’m waiting for a lover or a colleague, so we can catch our connecting flight to Somewhere Else. Anywhere but here.  

I’ve been here a long time. Even turned off my phone to save the battery. I’m now cut off from everything outside this terminal. There are no cat memes here. No Twitter outrage. Any conversation will have to be with a real person. There will be actual eye contact.

A small child climbs onto the seat next to me and stares at the words I am writing on my laptop. He is not having this nonsense of me losing myself in a world of my own. He pulls down my hoody, pulls my head phones out my ears and yells “I’m going home!” 

Good luck, kid. So am I.


© Dave Luis 2017. All Rights Reserved.



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