The Goodbyes and Hellos at Airports

Just returned from a set of very productive work meetings in Vietnam. We held our SDL Social Intelligence Leadership Strategy meeting in our Ho Chi Minh office to lock down our product roadmap for 2013. I’ll blog  another time why I occasionally hold these meetings in Vietnam.

In this post, I just want to reflect on how airports can be one of the saddest or the happiest places around.

On my way out, I saw a couple outside sitting on a bench in front of the airport in a full embrace. She buried her head into his shoulders while she visibly sobbed. Any movement by him resulted in her clinging tighter to him. She was Vietnamese, petite and young. I could sense a bit of desperation as she wouldn’t let him go. He was twice her size but looked just as vulnerable at the moment trying to console her. I’m sure he was trying to reassure her about his eventual return.

He had a well-weather face that was red. He had a receding hairline but long hair in the back that touched his shoulders. His hair was completely white. He was publicly emotional and sad, which softened his otherwise coarse appearance. She kept melting tighter and tighter into him. Airports can be a place of miserable good-byes..

Behind them was a big crowd of people waiting for their loved ones or friends to step out of the airport and into their arms. Every time the doors slid open, there was a grasp of anticipation. One middle-aged woman was greeted by screams of her name and an eventual mobbing. These tears were the happy sort.

I walked past, envying all the raw emotions around. The music in my ears made for a music video of life that would be hard to replicate on camera.