Sitting at the St. Paul International airport I received the second most disappointing news you can give to a weary traveler. My flight was going to be delayed (the only thing worse that this is finding out that your flight was canceled).
I had almost three hours to burn before my flight and there was a strong temptation to be frustrated. I quickly decided that was frustration was not going to change the outcome so I decided to find something else to do. I spent most of the time listening to an audio book but I managed to take some moments to see how other people played the waiting game. Most of those who were waiting for flights fell into one of these four categories:
1. The “Pacers”
Most Pacers take a seat close enough to the gate to see what’s going on but far enough away to give themselves space to walk. Pacers spend their wait time walking up and down the airport. They are sure not to wander too far from the gate so that they can check back periodically (usually every 20 minutes or so) to see if there are any additional changes to the flight status.
2. The “Complainers”
Complainers broadcast their frustration to everyone around. They look for anyone who is willing to listen to their story and sympathize with them. They constantly direct their angry stares toward the counter attendant. Loud sighs are frequent. Passing the time by calling to complain to everyone in their address book is quite common. Complainers and Pacers find each other as acceptable company.
3. The “Time Wasters”
Time Wasters give the impression that they are doing something productive during their wait. This is disguised by frequent cell phone and computer use. Time Wasters prefer to stay in one place but when they do move they can be found frequenting sales carts and bookstores with no intention of buying anything. Often they are on a mission to find a charging station so that their phone or computer doesn’t die while they’re playing games.
4. The “Maximizers”
Maximizers use the time at their disposal to work on projects, catch up on reading, clean out their email inbox, or many other productive things. Rather than pace pointlessly they walk with the purpose of finding a comfortable place work. Rather than complain they see the delay as an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with a stranger. Rather than let the time merely pass them by they become very chronologically intentional.
The interesting thing about the waiting game is that people can easily slide from one category to another. Maximizers can start off productive but end up being complainers. Time Wasters find the transition to Pacer very easy. Some people even experience all four identifiers during their flight delay.
So how do you play the waiting game? What other ways of waiting are there?