We went to the airport yesterday to pick up our friend Sally, inbound from Australia for a summer vacation partly with us. Which kicked off two largely-unrelated lines of thought that are not quite large enough to deserve their own essays. The big thing is the angle you hold your hips when you hug.
Vacations · Sally’s enjoying a four-week vacation. Four weeks!?!? Seems to me like something from another planet. She’s in a management position (i.e. give us your life) in the hospitality industry (i.e. low pay, hard work, lousy benefits) and she still gets to take four weeks.
Quite a few North Americans won’t have noticed this, but we are really different from the rest of the world in our attitude towards holidays. In Australia and especially in Europe people are generally entitled to from three to six weeks of vacation, and they generally take it. In Switzerland I’ve seen movie theatres closed for part of the summer because the staff is away.
Does aggregate productivity suffer? Yes. Is this still a better attitude towards life and work? Absolutely.
How to Hug · There’s an old joke about a high-school kid about to go on his first date who took a book of this title out of the library and it turned out to be Volume 10 of the Encyclopedia. But I digress.
Sally took a long time to get through the airport, so we hung out for over an hour in the arrivals hall. I was fascinated watching the people stream out of the opening in the fence and into the arms of their waiting loved ones; or not. I felt like I ought to construct a people-watcher’s blind like birders use, and hunch in there with a notepad and record cultural patterns, because they sure are out in your face in this context.
There are some cultures where hugging is just not done, and while a lot of these people are Chinese-looking, it’s not as simple as that. Rather than try to produce a grand unified theory of airport greeting behavior (after all, I have neither the blind nor the notebook), here are rough observational notes:
Nobody could watch this for long and remain misanthropic. People’s obvious joy in each other and the way it paints their faces, that’s a heart-warmer.