The moving walkways thrum and squeak with mechanical rhythm, carrying the occasional passengers up and down the terminal. Distant sounds ricochet off the high ceilings at crazy angles, and every once in a while I look up. No one is near, however; the curves and recesses have misdirected the sound, and have confused my ears. A teenager bounds down the terminal with big, loping strides, the soles of his tennis shoes slapping against the polished tile in the rhythm of a waltz. The glass and metal divide and scatter the waltz until it becomes experimental jazz. Every ten minutes, a group of travelers bustles past me toward baggage claim and immigration. Announcements in three different languages ring out, all preceded by a tone in C major.
The middle aged Chinese couple next to me, legs crossed toward each other, mumble in hushed tones. A few people sit for a brief time, and then drag themselves to the toilets, smoking area, or shops. No one stops at the duty-free store. This is not the time of day to buy liquor in an airport. Some dazed passengers’ eyes wander around the terminal and take in their new surroundings. Others focus on a phone or some other communications tool.
I can differentiate between old suitcases an new ones by the way their wheels handle the trip down the terminal. The ball bearings in old suitcases rattle and grind, whereas those in new ones hiss and click in well-oiled precision. My eyes concentrate on the page as I type, but I can tell which people are flight crew and which are passengers by listening to the mileage of their luggage.
A C major pings over the PA, and my boarding announcement echoes through the terminal. I grab my gear and haul myself up. See you on the other side.