Hey all, kia ora! That’s Maori – the indigenous folk here in New Zealand – for… hello, I think? As you can tell, I’m learning this language ultra quickly. It’s my first day on my own, as Kylie is at school doing whatever it is teachers do, so I decided to explore my new city. I found a little coffee place on campus approximately three minutes from the residence and I am now there living my dream of sitting in a coffee shop pretentiously typing away on a laptop.
Since my journey here was the first time I’ve had to make connecting flights, I discovered a bunch of things to do when you’re faced with a long layover. As promised in my last post, here are some things you can do to pass the time when waiting in the airport.
1. The obvious stuff
Picture this, but in an airport.
Obviously there are a ton of NORMAL things you can do to pass time, but they’re good, time-tested methods so I will include them. If you read my last post, you know I arrived at Pearson well before I needed to, so I had some time to kill. I bought a book – Divergent – and read that for a good two or three hours. Yes, this isn’t technically a layover, but it falls under the category of airport waiting, so it’s legit. This is also a good time to use the stuff you’ve strategically placed in your carry-on – a Gameboy, puzzle book, deck of cards, etc. Just make sure you prepare ahead of time.
2. Document the experience
What better way to fight the boredom of layovers than writing about how boring your layover is? In your retelling of the tale, a simple child crying can become a motive for murder, and a trip to the bathroom can be three full chapters of planning and executing the journey – and it is a journey, since you have to take all your shit with you, or risk asking someone to watch it. If you’re hip, you’ll also want to keep your legions of social media followers up to date through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. I find the easiest way to do this is to link all your accounts together, so when you post one thing, it immediately goes to all of them. Sure, the majority of your friends will now have to witness your picture of your departure gate upwards of a dozen times, but it’s worth it to ensure your image is available to that one person you only have on Twitter.
This is the classic thing to do in any situation you find yourself waiting around with nothing else to do. At least, it is for me. People are interesting, weird, and sometimes downright hilarious, and the best time to catch them in that state is to watch when they assume no one is watching. For some reason, the airport is one of those places, although you’re in a public area with tons of people passing by. Listening to peoples’ conversations, watching harried parents chasing after their infant who, despite being on a child-leash, has managed to escape and evade all attempts at recapture, or even watching people take pictures of the silliest things – like their departure gate HAHAHA – and laughing – all of these are great ways to pass the time. Especially if the people have varied accents. I swear I spent my entire six-hour layover in Auckland listening to Kiwis talk about the most mundane things, entranced by the way they contorted the English language before spitting out words.
This is one that solely depends on where you are and who you know. However, if the stars align or whatever, layovers are perfect opportunities to catch up with people you may not otherwise see. My friend and fellow Front Office member at the Gazette Nicole moved to Vancouver after our stint at the paper to do school or something. That meant I hadn’t seen her in about a year but, lo and behold, I had a five-hour layover in Vancouver! Crazy, right? It’s almost like a movie premise. A movie called The Layover. Is that a thing yet? If not, I shall write it someday. Anyways, this time-waster is dependent on your friend/family member/lover etc. In my case, I was lucky that Nicole could make it to the airport with not too much difficulty. I met her in a public part of the airport and we enjoyed a nice lunch and catch up. The only downside to this is you have to go through security again, but if you give yourself enough time that’s no issue.
5. Use all the free internets
A lot of airports offer Wi-Fi, I think; I’m not really basing that on anything, though. I didn’t need to use it in Toronto or Vancouver, as I still had my phone’s mobile data. Auckland offered 30 minutes (!) of free Wi-Fi, and even though I didn’t really have more than five minutes worth of stuff to do –email Mom, post an Instagram of my flight, etc. – I made sure to use as much of the 30 minutes as I possibly could. Since it was a five-hour wait, 30 minutes didn’t fill up much. So next, I attempted to practice the next entry…
6. Sleeping while sitting up and pretending you’re not sleeping
Sleeping while sitting up is a skill many people underestimate. There are several parts to it to ensure you don’t groggily open your eyes to a bunch of people pointing and giggling at the drool accumulating on your chin. I like to lean slightly back in the chair – this prevents the dreaded head-onto-chest slump, and contains drool at the same time – and cross my arms. Now, without sunglasses – and as some of you may know, I’m not a fan of them – it’s pretty hard to mask the fact that your eyes are closed. Perhaps a baseball cap pulled low, but it’s not that much of a concern in my book. Close your eyes and put on a frown; that, coupled with the crossed arms, will make you look like you’re just resting your eyes, and you’re pissed off about it. Alternative: do this and only pretend to sleep, and then eavesdrop listen to the conversations around you.
7. Make new friends
I did this, although kind of unwittingly. Also, I was more the victim of this, as everyone knows I hate making new friends. In this case, I was befriended by two old people in Toronto, and a nice lady in Vancouver. The old people apparently had just finished up a cruise and were returning to Vancouver. I actually initiated the process, as the woman was looking for an electrical outlet, and I, having strategically sat near one, pointed it out to her. Despite being clearly engaged in my book, the pleasant couple kept chatting to me. They asked what the weather was like outside, and I unknowingly opened myself to mockery by saying “oh it’s pretty nice, probably seven or eight degrees.” They scoffed at this, clearly saying “nice for YOU maybe.” This saddened me, until I remember I was young and en route to New Zealand. Score for me! They kept talking about other things, like their cruise, and Vancouver, but, despite the pleasant, well-meaning nature of their conversation, I decided I didn’t have to put up with that shit and took off on the pretense of going to the bathroom. Which leads me to my next point…
8. Go to the bathroom a lot
Going to the bathroom in airports is easier said than done. You can’t leave your luggage unattended because you’re likely to come back to find the area evacuated, and security swarming all over as the explosives unit detonates your carry-on. Or, well, that’s what the movies have led me to believe. I also wouldn’t want to leave it under the watchful eye of some do-gooder, as they probably aren’t paying attention, and if someone does steal your shit, what are you gonna do? Sue them? Unlikely. All this means that bathroom treks are quite the endeavour. I made sure to visit the facilities at least once in every airport, especially Vancouver – can you imagine having to take a dump on a plane? The bathrooms are tiny, and you just know someone’s going to be waiting when you come out. I dished out the knowing, smirking look to a lady that was in the bathroom way too long, and I would never want to be the focus of that. Anyways, to avoid this outcome, I would blunder into the bathroom with my laptop bag over one shoulder and my duffle over the other, crash through the stall, and drop my bags on the floor. I would do this even if I was only going number one, you guys. One thing to note – when you’re going to the bathroom, with your pants around your ankles behind a locked door, you want to make sure you have a good hold on your bags. There’s not much you can do if you’re mid-wipe and some enterprising thief decides to reach under the door and grab your laptop bag containing tens of dollars worth of electronics. I like to keep it simple, and loop the straps around my foot.
9. Act super foreign
This obviously only works if you’re in a country that isn’t your own, but it’s quite fun to do. I got to try this out in the Auckland airport, and admittedly have employed it several times since arriving in Christchurch. I went to a little café, and made my first NZ purchase. Even though I’ve been in possession of NZ money for a while, I made a big show of taking it out and examining it to make sure it was the right amount. When I got my change back, I looked at the coins with wonder, before apologetically smiling at the cashier and explaining that I was “still learning the money.” I’ve done this at least a dozen times since. I’ve also employed variations, with the fall back being something along the lines of “I’m new here!” This not only is hilarious but, in New Zealand at least, makes everyone delightfully demand you say specific words. Like “about” for some reason, which is apparently uproariously hilarious. Friggen Kiwis. And finally:
10. Visit every gift shop in the airport
Once you’ve completed everything on this list (estimate time to complete: one hour), you’ll have nothing better to do than visit all the gift shops. While many of them carry mostly the same things, there will just enough variance that you have to go to each one, lest you miss some great souvenir. If you feel bad about this, justify it to yourself – oh, I’m about to leave Canada? Better spend all my Canadian money before I do! Or, it’s my first time in a New Zealand gift store! I should test out this new, strange money! You’ve probably promised a thousand people back home you’d get them something, like a knick-knack, or a postcard, or something equally as frivolous, so when better to get that out of the way then the airport? They’ll never know that the bottle-opener with the kiwi on it didn’t come from the heart of downtown Christchurch, so save yourself some time.
Next post: my first couple days in CHCH, and the results of an apartment viewing I have in about two hours. Follow along with my adventure by following me on Twitter!