I was travelling to my international conference on Tuesday and had a long layover in LAX. After observing that we are really lucky in Vancouver to have such terrific amenities at the airport and that other cities are not so lucky, I settled in to watch the ebb and flow of the crowd. From loads of people getting off the shuttle to the milling crowds and lines at the boarding gates, to people searching for seats, people searching for gates, people chatting about the consequential and not, the muffled rumble of the announcements and the hollow roar of engines as the planes arrive, disgorging more travelers passing through, it reminded me of the analogy of purgatory as an airport lounge.  It’s a great place to watch the tide of humanity, sweeping in waves of endless ocean chatter.

One thing I notice about waiting in an airport lounge for any length of time is the variety of things people do to pass the time, or try to save it. Once in the lounge, I discovered somewhat slow Wi-Fi, which was good, otherwise I might have missed the full makeup application across from me! Primer, foundation, blush, shadow, eyelash curler, liner, four kinds of mascara, Q-tip in her mouth to moisten and sweep away excess shadow, more mascara, more eyelash curler, finishing liberal dose of fragrance. I might have missed some steps, as I couldn’t keep looking overtly without seeming like a stalker. I remained fascinated by the intricacy of this very private routine in a very public venue. The women’s washroom was about 30 feet away, although after checking it out, I noticed it might not have been the easiest place in which to apply a full face, either.

I wondered about her morning; was it hectic? Did she sleep in and almost miss the flight? Did she plan to save some time by doing something while waiting? Is she super self-confident or unaware of the line between personal space and the public world? Or maybe that line is just fading as we move into the social media hyper public world…

In my mind, I had to give props to her laid back nature and at the same time noticed that my judgement did kick in a little on the ‘too much information’ of someone displaying all of their grooming kit in a very public space. A quick hit of lipstick or powder is one thing, but a full face? I’m torn. Etiquette says no to public grooming, but world changes might be changing etiquette too. What do you think? Keep it private, or let it all hang out?