Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 26th 2014 Contents A42
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, August 26, 2014
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As soon as the plane stopped moving forward,
there was absolute chaos. The race was on! Bored,
then fascinated, I watched this spectacle of nature
unfold in front of me from my window seat near
the back of the plane.
The hundreds of passengers all around me became
frantic, the ones nearer the aisles clambered over
each other, forcing their way out, rushing forward
until there was physically no more room in the aisle,
and still they pushed. Middle-aged men reached
up, and with affectations of great strength lifted
heavy baggage, while looking to see who was watch-
ing the show.
Others, like elderly women simply tugged at theirs
until it came crashing down dangerously on to them.
To my disbelief; more pushing and shoving to
find non-existent floor space for the bags. The
feigning of passive- aggressive politeness in the
It even amazed me that passengers in other win-
dow seats insisted on standing, craning their necks
down and hunching forward uncomfortably in the
limited standing room beneath the overhead lockers.
I took a moment to appreciate the fact that it
had been a safe flight and landing, aware of how
ugly things could get if there was any hint of real
The crowd anti-climactically waited in this state
of readiness, like horses in the starting box. Their
frustration was now becoming evident. Hundreds
of eyes glared ahead, fixed on every move of the
apathetic, tired flight attendants.
Finally there was movement. An avalanche of
humanity and baggage rolled down the aisles and
out the exits, picking up momentum as it went.
Now, over in the aisle seat, I waited patiently,
like one trying to merge into traffic, looking up,
hoping to make eye contact with a lethargic pas-
senger, and thus ensuring a spot to stand up in.
Two, three, four people, then a family raced by,
their eyes locked on the exit, before I finally got
my chance. Up and out, let s go...My legs felt great
to be walking again.
Like ungulates on the African savanna, the herd
now charged up the jetway and out into the hallways,
perhaps racing towards greener pastures in this
human migration, and like any herd it moved at
the fastest speed of its slowest members, who
inevitably and sometimes deliberately blocked the
aisles and moving walkways with their wheeled
Now, in the wide open home stretch, the herd
fanned out as everyone around me seemed deter-
mined to accelerate into the finish.
It s true, an airport is the first impression that
any traveller gets of a country, and every time I
land in a first world airport, I am again reminded
of just what an embarrassment our airport is to the
people of T&T. It s probably best that visitors to
our country don t learn how much we paid for it.
I am digressing.
Stretching my gait out in the home stretch, I had
now caught up to more competitors that had
dropped off the pace and had begun falling back.
Mothers clutched fancy handbags in one hand and
literally dragged confused and frightened young
children whose little legs struggled to keep up, in
Seventy metres ahead, the champions rounded
the corner into immigration.
Perhaps a few passengers had to race to catch
connecting flights, but surely the odds were against
a whole flight of tight connections. The suffering
was becoming evident around me. Beautiful high-
heeled shoes now began to tread painfully and softly,
instead of tapping the ground loudly.
The herd tightened and jostled for position now
as passengers and roller bags utilised strategy like
race car drivers to gain the
inside around the corner and
into the long zig-zag lanes of
immigration that split us up
based on nationality.
It occurred to me that we can
learn much about our country
and our reputation abroad as
Trinidadians by the frequency
with which we are required to
The slow, calm immigration
line now provided such a stark
Why all that previous hysteria
and frantic rush? How can we
get over it? I wondered. Perhaps
it was the natural reaction to
having been kept so still for the
duration of the flight?
I realised that we are genet-
ically hardwired to be compet-
We all come from a long line
of winners in this game of sur-
vival of the fittest.
Competition is everywhere;
in business, sport, politics, even
to pass on in our genes.
Maybe, in modern society
today, we need an outlet like
sport to replace our ancient,
hostile environment, forcing us
to regularly check our egos and
giving us the opportunity to
vent and channel this ancient,
Without such an outlet,
instead of us controlling our pri-
mal competitive nature, like we
do in sport to bring out our best,
this natural drive controls and
brings out the animal in us.
Through immigration, I made
my way down to the baggage
claims, only to find all the
champions of the race still
there, now waiting for their bags
just like me, surrendering to the
luck of the draw in the baggage
carousel. The futility of it all!!
Follow George on Twitter:
Survival of the fittestI realised that we are
genetically hardwired to
be competitive. We all
come from a long line of
winners in this game of
survival of the fittest.
everywhere; in business,
sport, politics, even to
pass on in our genes.
Maybe, in modern
society today, we need
an outlet like sport to
replace our ancient,
forcing us to regularly
check our egos and
giving us the
opportunity to vent and
channel this ancient,
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