11:35 BD4850 CALGARY LANDED 1120
Waiting at Arrivals for her, he watched the passengers come through the door, one by one, scanning each to see if they'd be the one he'd come to take back to the city. Passport Control, Baggage Reclaim and Customs as a casino machine that spits people out at random speeds, and in random pairs with others, from its funnel of lines. Families separated and reshuffled so that, ten minutes later than the rest of her nervous family, Mum walks out next to a man with slicked-back hair and the carpet bag that looks expensive. Other families come through together. Sometimes no-one for ages, and then a glut all at once, as if the machine has blocked up and then started back up suddenly and is over-revving until it has caught up with itself.
11:45 CO8228 LOS ANGELES LANDED 1128
He watches the passengers come out, taking the split-second to identify them as not-her, and his eyes move on to the next one. But when there aren't many he has time to linger on each, to look at them and wonder about them and their lives. Do they look tired or fresh after their flight? Are they excited at the return home post-holiday, or is this merely their weekly flight into the city, the air commute that consumes time and spirit?
12:05 SK805 OSLO LANDED 1141
Which Waiters will get their Passenger next? And who would he put with this Waiter? Or with that Arriver? Despite the fact that there are surprises - people he'd never have put together - he has never seen someone run up to a Driver holding a namecard and hug them with tears in their eyes...
12:15 EK001 DUBAI LANDED 1204
Now he turns to watch his fellow Waiters: the drivers holding a clipboard with a name on it, the relatives awaiting their long-haul blood, and others. All are doing the same thing - looking the same direction, eyes flicking left and right to scan the faces, the large-group co-ordination of Wimbledon, in miniature. All except him: unseen, he looks at them Waiting for and looking at the Arrivers.
12:15 UA934 HONOLULU VIA LOS ANGELES EXPECTED 1400
A law of Waiting: he'll inevitably see, whilst waiting for her, someone he knows from another world or time - someone he went to school with perhaps. Or someone from his first ever job. They won't see him, but the connection is made in the time/space lottery.
12:25 AA136 LOS ANGELES LANDED 1206
When crossing the hygiene threshhold back into messy and anonymous public space, the Arrivers come through a doorway and find themselves at a T-junction: in front of them is a metal fence barrier, behind which are the Waiters, and they can go left or right. Some turn to the right, as shoppers tend to upon entering a retail zone, but many will pause, looking left then right, then at the crowd of Waiters, then left and right again. A small log-jam may develop for a moment behind them. A few, safe in the knowledge that there are none Waiting for them, march on.
12:50 BD3843 STOCKHOLM EXPECTED 1246
Some Waiters will position themselves exactly opposite the the doorway, to see their loved one as early as possible, getting glimpses that flash and occult through the opening and closing doorways down a corridor that leads this way.
13:00 RG8756 SAO PAULO EXPECTED 1325
Does he wish he was with this Arriver here instead of the one he's actually waiting for? (He imagines their alternate life together.) Does he look to the right at that attractive woman and wonder if she'd prefer to take him home, rather than whoever she's waiting for? His question is answered a moment later when someone comes throught the door, she lights up, and they head off, oblivious of the others.
13:05 BG015 DHAKA VIA DUBAI EXPECTED 1245
Not far away is a message pinboard, with handwritten notes for names that come from both ends of the alphabet. Anne Munday, Mrs Achu, Agata Ziec, Agnes Ingwi, J. Huston, Mai Yassie, Ettiene Zwiegelaar - the Arrivers or Waiters who missed and didn't connect with each other, the Waited-for who never Arrived, or Arrived late, or not at all. The Should-have-Waited who came late, or never bothered. Perhaps these un-met Waiters and Arrivers remain nomads in the airport, their destinies un-crossed, un-fulfilled.
13:05 SK503 COPENHAGEN LANDED 1250
She Arrives, is seen, is met. They leave to Short-Term Parking and the world outside.