Over-excited people rushing by. Overpriced food and drinks. The smell of people having been cooped up in metal boxes for too long. Inexplicable delays and gate changes.
Airports. What’s not to love?
That’s not the subject of this post. It’s about airports. Or perhaps better, one funny thing I noticed today at this airport.
Airports have moving walkways. I don’t really know why, they don’t move faster than you can walk and you can’t walk on them because there is always someone with 3 suitcases, 4 bags and 5 children in front of you, blocking your path.
Charles de Gaule has a lot of them. Fairly small ones. Meaning they are sometimes empty. So I decided to indulge myself and cross the six meters that this particular one spanned at a slightly higher pace than I would normally walk, by combining my own walking speed with that of the moving walkway.
Except that I didn’t. Because it wasn’t turned on.
Now, a moving walkway when it’s not turned on, for all intents and purposes, is no different than a solid piece of floor. Imagine my surprise when I stepped on it and I momentarily had to grab the railway so as not to lose my balance. Subconsciously I had been expecting the thing to move and when it didn’t my mind over-compensated, resulting in a moment of disorientation.
Always in for a bit of experimentation, I noticed the next empty walkway, also turned off. This time I saw it. I knew it wasn’t moving. I was prepared.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the exact same moment of ever-so-slight loss of balance.
My subconscious must have a fairly rigid set of rules: Moving walkways always move => Adjust your balance to compensate. And when the world suddenly changes, the result is a feeling of discomfort.
If I were to walk the non-moving moving walkway a few more times, I’m sure my brain would adapt very quickly. And the previous discomfort would become the new expected norm. For moving walkways this may not be the most useful, as in general moving walkways do move. But for all those other parts of life where changes are more permanent, railing against them doesn’t do a lot of good.
Better to go with the flow. Or the walkway.