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Families On Holiday: Departures

18 August 2014
I'm currently doing a summer work placement at Heathrow Airport, based in the buses that go from one of the car parks to Terminals 1, 2 and 3, and when I'm not being the polite, helpful person they pay me to be, I sit back and subtly observe the different types of people on the bus. Not in a creepy way, just you know, it's a 10 minute journey and you've got to find something to do, and sometimes you just can't not hear the conversation happening behind you. 

Here are some of the different types of families I've seen over the last few weeks:

The 'I'm Just Happy To Be Here' Family

Probably my favourite family. They get on the bus, with their suitcases, say hello to everyone and are just generally happy and chatty. Not even in an annoying manner. The clothes and suitcases are all loud and colourful, and the kids get excited when they see any planes flying over us. Speaking to them is always a nice little addition to the day.

The 'I Don't Have A Fecking Clue' Family

This family have spent ages trying to find the car park because they don't know the area, and didn't check any directions beforehand. They park up and jump straight onto the bus, forgetting to write down the zone/row they're parked in, and only realising halfway through the journey and start panicking. You ask them what terminal they're travelling to, and they can't remember; it's on a piece of paper somewhere in the mother's handbag. They find it, but then second guess themselves, before I have to double check with my terminal guide, which still isn't enough reassurance. We stop at a different Terminal, to let others off, but they get up and start to get their suitcases before you have to stop them and tell them it's not their stop. We finally reach the stop and they get off, and as the doors of the bus shut you hear 'okay, so where do we need to go?' You'd be surprised how often this happens.

The 'Time For Another Adventure' Family

A family who have clearly been on many adventure-style holidays in the past, and are about to embark on another. They're dressed in mainly red, brown and green, with proper good boots which have probably seen more of the world than I'll ever see, and those camping-style rucksacks. They're excited. I'm excited for them. They've got a ridiculously strong bond, and I listen to their plans and smile through the jealousy.

The 'Running Late and On The Edge' Family

Unfortunately, traffic on the M... whatever was really bad, and this family are hours late. Check-in closes in about half an hour and they are on the edge. If the bus is even a minute late, it's a sign, and whenever we hit a red light on the way you can hear worried sighs and angry murmurs. Talking to them, to stop them worrying doesn't seem to work, as they constantly check their watch, and you've got everything crossed for them, 'cause you know that if it were even 15 minutes earlier, the situation would be a lot different.

The 'Here's Some Useless Information You'll Never Need To Know' Family

This family are usually pretty efficient with suitcases and information and everything, but once they're sat down and the journey begins, even the mere sight of an aeroplane turns into a history lesson. The kids aren't interested as the whole story of the airport, or the inside of a plane is explained in full detail. Thrilling.

The 'Where Did All This Stuff Come From?' Family

We approach the bus stop and see a family of 4 waiting with a couple of suitcases. That's cool, they can handle that, they don't need my help, so I'll just say hello and let them do their thing- oh, wait there's more suitcases round the corner. There's a lot actually. Let's say 5. The parents try and take 2 each, whilst a child of say 8 is struggling to pull another one along, that's bigger than the size of him, and everything is just a little chaotic. You help them out, and their cases take up half of the space, and everyone is sweating profusely and flop down onto a seat. As they get off at their terminal, and have trolleys to help them, they both walk off in disbelief at how much stuff they're taking. I can only wonder what's inside those cases...

The 'Romantic Couple' Family

Basically just a couple who are going away together, and sit on the bus displaying some serious PDA. Good for them. Not jealous at all. Nuh uh.

The 'We've Done This Before, You Know The Drill' Family

This family go on holiday at the same point every year, usually to the same place, and have a system. The dad takes the suitcases and manages to get them all stowed away in about 5 seconds. Everyone has their own suitcase, sometimes colour coded, and the parents know exactly where they're going, what they need to do. It's efficient, it makes my job easier, more of this please.

The 'Leave The Problems At Home... Please' Family

This is a family who unfortunately are facing some issues, and have been arguing a lot. They're going on holiday, and hope to just relax and leave all of their problems at home, and just enjoy the week, but one little thing goes wrong and sparks a pretty heated conversations. Nothing ever reaches the loud argument stage, but harsh words are said through gritted teeth, never above normal talking level, and you can't help but feel a little upset for the children, who sometimes end up being involved.

The 'Ready To Mingle' Family

Another happy family who are excited to go away, but the second they hear something remotely relevant to them they'll join a conversation and start talking to fellow family members. Usually a nice thing to see, but when faced with a stressed or even generally quiet family, it can lead to some awkward moments. Enter Rob.

The 'It's Too Early For This Shit' Family

It's early in the morning, and they'd been driving for a good hour or so before reaching the car park, not to mention being up a couple of hours beforehand to make sure they've got absolutely everything. Nevermind the fact they'd been up since 1am last night doing the same thing. The last thing they want is a slightly OTT fat guy in their face, so you ask them their terminal and just leave them be, checking every couple of minutes that they haven't fallen asleep.
2 comments on "Families On Holiday: Departures"
  1. Really enjoyed reading this! Observing people (in a non-creeper way obviously, haha) can be very entertaining.

    1. Thank you! Oh I know haha, it's one of my favourite things to do if I'm by myself - you see people in their 'natural state,' it's like a wildlife documentary :P