English is one of the most versatile languages in the world. But you already knew that! However, I’m still amazed at the opportunities that can arise from simple communication.
One of the most unlikely places for these kinds of opportunities is the airport. Now this might sound counterintuitive, but let me tell you why, in my opinion, the airport is an unlikely place for this type of communication opportunity. If you’re anything like me, it’s because airports are one of the most unpleasant places in the world!
Personally, when I’m at the airport, I’m usually not in the most talkative of moods! I’ve usually just gone through security, and been hassled about some tiny little thing: my coat was too big; my toothpaste container was beyond the limit; there was something left in my pockets, etc., etc., etc…. Then, once you get past security, you’re essentially a prisoner with thousands of other people until your plane leaves! This usually either leads to endless boredom, or some other attempt to seem productive like trying to work, although it’s never a pleasant experience in the hustle-and-bustle environment of an airside terminal.
That being said, there are numerous reasons why the airport is one of, if not, the best place for communication. Of course, you’re surrounded by people of unfamiliar cultures. And thanks to the ubiquitousness of English as the de facto global language of our beautiful planet, as an English speaker, you can communicate with more people than you might think!
And, you’re already got an immediate ice breaker as well! The hardest part of making conversation, in my humble opinion, is getting the conversation started in the first place. But, if you’re sitting next to someone at the same game, waiting for your flight to be called, you already have an in!
Here’s just one anecdote of the results of this confluence of circumstances. As an aside, this happened while waiting for a ferry, but the that doesn’t matter! A ferry port is an airport is a boat is a plane, so let’s get to it!
My friend and I were patiently waiting for our ferry to Yakushima. While waiting, I noticed that the child next to us was on the verge of crying. The parents were involved in a discussion and didn’t notice the calamity, but I did. The child had dropped his Doraemon doll on the floor, and he was so young that he couldn’t reach it. I pointed this out to my friend, and she reached down and handed it back to the little tyke.
Immediately, our group of 2 became a group of 3. He was our new best friend, and began to share everything he loved about his doll. He even followed me to get a drink of water, so that he didn’t have to stop expounding the virtues of his Doraemon.
Their child’s love for us was hard to miss, so eventually the parents took notice and joined in our conversation! It turned out that they were Yakushima locals! We mentioned that it was our first visit to the island, and we would like recommendations to stay. They first asked us how long we were staying, to which we replied only 1 night. Well, in that case they responded, they knew a beautiful place to spend the night: their house!
And so began our amazing short stay with the Takeshi family on Yakushima. They took us to an amazing local restaurant where we feasted on flying fish sashimi, and were the consummate tour guides the next day when we went for a hike through the world heritage forests that occupy the mountainous central region of the island.
And all this from a little bit of kindness and English!
So, it’s a New Year full of opportunities. Make the best of every opportunity you have, even if you’re a bit crabby before your flight. A good attitude and your English abilities give you the power to do anything you want!
座右の名”The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.”