A colleague and I did some work down south this week and we flew back on Thursday evening from Dunedin.
As we were waiting to board, the little lounge started filling up with students from Otago University, heading home to Auckland for the Easter break. Soon my colleague and I began to feel quite old, and that we were in some kind of cruisy, easy-going, sensory-overload-filled lecture room with vibrant chat all around. Students were leaning against walls, sitting in groups on the floor surrounded by their bags and books, sharing stories about classes and labs, and making plans for going out on the town as soon as they touched down.
As I was checking in, the attendant at the door said, 'Oh, you're on the student flight!' as if to say, 'Did you know, older person, that you're going to be in the midst of a student pack, why did you choose to fly home on this plane?'
As it turned out, it was jolly good fun. Us older folks were certainly in the minority but being surrounded by such youthful jollity was quite a tonic as we winged our way northward.
I observed in the row ahead a young woman thumbing through her phone apps, everything from facebook and Twitter to Whatsapp and whatsup and whatisthis and whosdoingwhat (I made those last few up), then reading a book on Kindle.
Over the aisle some young guys were sampling the beers on offer (Air New Zealand shout us a beer or wine on some flights). Across from us a young woman was head down, pen at the ready, making notes from a textbook and the aircraft was filled with the aroma of worn-three-day socks, reused-five-day-without-a-wash T shirts, sweet perfume wearing a bit thin now after a day of action, all of which became more pronounced as the flight got rougher, ploughing and bouncing into the strong headwinds.
Certainly made a difference to the usual flights of people coming home after a day of business ... heads back against the seat, jaw open, snoring ... dozing into the newspaper ... no one talking, politely sipping their drinks.
I was particularly thrilled when my very nice cup of Monteiths' Green Beret beer runneth overed across my little tray table, and the young beer-sampling students raised theirs in support with a 'Yay!'.
That was pretty good.