At the Copenhagen airport, Mika and I found the quiet room. It was a soft, well lit, room designed for prayer and reflection. During the hour I was in it, the only other visitor was a child cracking open the doorway to peer in. The room had a guest book with hundreds of messages left by other travelers over the last couple years. People praised the airport administrators for providing the room, made suggestions, and complained about the room, the airport, and the country’s shortcomings. They talked about themselves, their travels, their happiness and unhappiness with departing or returning home, and their thoughts about the world.
I spend a lot of time in airports but only rarely speak to my fellow travelers. It’s amazing how little I know about the thousands of people waiting in line with me, sitting near me on the plane, and sharing in the long, lonely, and often stressful experience of moving between countries and continents. The guest book provided a rare window into these people in what is normally the anonymous and depersonalized non-place of airports. In the quiet room, I could — for the first time — hear some of these fellow travelers speak.