We’re in the Charlotte airport and are experiencing a bit of delay. We’re on the new terminal, a beautiful one, completed last year, yet still somehow there aren’t enough gates. At our last gate, a different flight was boarding to Austin, but the digital display read, “Portland, ME.” While making the boarding announcements, the gate attendant omitted the flight destination, so several people destined for Portland embarked on the Austin flight. The attendant seemed unaware that the digital display above the gate door read anything other than “Austin” so made a rather irate announcement, “This flight is boarding for Austin. Austin only! I just had someone from Portland board my plane. If you are on the Portland flight, please go sit down.” She pointed up at the sign again to indicate that only the Austin flight was boarding. It was all rather comical.

Eventually we were moved to a different gate, where we sit patiently now waiting while yet a different flight, this one to Jackson, Mississippi, boards. For a change, I’m not in any particular hurry. It’s just vacation and since I’m not headed to Cooperstown, I don’t have to worry about missing any Cal Ripken events. A few minutes ago I found my Orioles bucket hat in my backpack. I thought I had forgotten to pack it, so now, everything is good and the vacation is officially underway. I’m rather enjoying the people watching, one of my favorite hobbies, especially when I see things that challenge my assumptions.

Standing at our first gate was a young thirty-something, bald man with tattoos on his arms that extended passed his short-sleeve shirt. He looked like a real tough guy. I couldn’t quite make out the tattoo pattern, but they resembled flames. I’m thinking it was something of a “devil” or “hell” theme. He was leaning against a rail intently reading a book. I recognized the cover instantly, “The Seven Principles for a Happy Marriage.” A couple of times, he flipped back a few pages, reread them, and then flipped forward again. As he approached the gate to board (he was on the Austin flight), standing close enough to other people that they might be able to read the title, he opened a different book of substantial size with a brown leather cover (maybe a bible) and tucked Gottman’s book in the middle, squeezing the outer book closed around the Gottman book. A classic case of never judge a book by its cover. “Mr. Tough Guy” was making an effort to protect his marriage that many a clean-cut, less “threatening” looking man would and do refuse to do.

We’re boarding now so I’ll have to save any other musings and observations for a different time.