Airports, you guys.

They’re the best. And the worst.

I’ll start with the latter. You know those “autocorrect” typos that are funny and everyone gets a good laugh when your phone changes “hi mom” into “hi mango” and it’s cute and annoying. Well, ladies and gents, I present the most costly autocorrect mistake that I’ve seen yet. My Boarding Pass

My middle name is “Christine” which is a lot like “Christopher.” To be fair, they both get cut off after the “chris” so my name is frequently typed as “SHANNONCHRIS” on important documents. Well, my most recent boarding pass to vietnam was one those mix ups. My trusty faulty old ipad decided that since I never use my middle name, I was probably referring to my dad, Christopher. And to be fair, there was probably a vital “do you wish to edit your purchase” page that I glazed over oh too casually, but in all my official passes it was only the first five letters, which never alarmed me. Yet, I was reviewing the flight info when I noticed it and naively assumed it wasn’t important, that I caught the error. My mom was quick to remind me that flying over international borders is kind of a big deal and if your passport doesn’t match your boarding pass.. well good luck trying to sweet talk the border patrol. When I finally called the airlines, they basically told me just to go to the airport and sort it out there- thanks for that guys.

Yada yada, half an hour at customer service and another half hour at the opposite side of the airport (btw, if bangkok isn’t in the top ten for largest airports ever, i’d be shocked) printing some documents I could have printed beforehand and I’m finally getting checked in. You know what the fee was to change the dumb ticket? Five bucks short of the actual flight cost. Granted that was under $100, we can still file it under Lessons Shannon’s Learning the Hard Way.

BUT WHATEVER because guess who showed up a healthy three hours before her flight? THIS GAL. NO WORRIES guys (as a result of a previous lesson I had learned the hard way..) I had plenty of time to make friends with the ticket counter workers. Despite the lack of sympathy when I shed a tear as I pulled out the cash fee.

Okay. Now lets end on a good note.

Here’s why airports are the best.

Everyone is in transit. Nobody is a foreigner, but everybody is foreign. They are the same basic gig anywhere in the world, just terminals and seats and duty free shops. It’s where I feel the most comfortable and the most at ease, even if I’m the only one. Traveling alone is different though. When you subtract the stress of friends and family members arguing about gates and times and snacks you’re left with a still peace. Particularly if you’ve saved enough time, it’s just a matter of going through the motions. And everyone there is just like you. Even if I’m on a new continent surrounded by a new alphabet, I still recognize the system and can blend in like your everyday chameleon. We’re all just trying to get from point A to point B, we all are rushing through terminals and waiting hours in between flights. We’re sleepy and hungry and not at our best, but at the same time, the familiarity is almost friendly.

Once I leave the airport in Hanoi, I’ll be crossing off an entirely new set of firsts amongst a Vietnamese crowd in a new town with yet another new language. I’ll be the white foreigner, the tourist, hopefully the friendly and unobtrusive traveler, but regardless I’ll be out of my element. But until then, I’m in MY zone. This repetitive motion that I know from habit. Once I trekked the 8 miles across the stupid airport because obviously my check in counter was at the literal opposite end as my gate (THE last one), I scooped up the sandwich I’d been dreaming about for longer than anyone should be able to dream about a sandwich for, grabbed a jumbo pack of seaweed snacks because the only one they had left was for a family of 12 but darnit I wanted some seaweed, some chocolate to celebrate my victory in making it this far….And I was set.

Ready to do this. Lets go.



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