4 personality types of an airport book signing

In all my travels, I had never seen an author signing books in an airport book store. That’s why the idea seemed so perfect when the opportunity arose to hit the road for an “Airport Book Tour” for my book Step Back from the Baggage Claim: Change the World, Start at the Airport. The whirlwind journey began with signings in these airports: CMH, CVG, IND, MKE, IAD, DCA, JFK, LGA, RSW, PBI, and FLL. More to come.

The scene is always quite similar. A large sign about the Step Back from the Baggage Claim movement stands outside the airport book store, a stack of books sit at the entrance, and I stand in the epicenter of the passing travelers – connecting with those allowing themselves to slow down. It’s such a unique moment because they aren’t there for this. They’ve got places to get to. They’re often in a hurry. And, in many cases, the autopilot is on. But, it is always fascinating to meet new people and observe the ways we tend to move throughout the world.

In all of these crowded spaces where our lives cross paths, I’ve noticed 4 personality types that emerge:

* The Zombie – This traveler is in a trance like state. No emotion on their face, distant stare, and feet just plodding along. If a parade of circus clowns were fist-fighting along their path, they wouldn’t even notice it.

* The Straggler – This passerby is cautious by nature. You watch them discretely make their way past the table, keeping their distance, but still trying to read the sign. They are taking in all the information they can without being noticed. What is this book? Who is this guy? They pace cautiously back and forth across the corridor trying to muster up the confidence to approach the table. Finally, after ten minutes of mental wrestling from a far, they build the courage to come forward and discuss.

* The Avoider – This personality type seems to be quite common. They aren’t a Zombie and they aren’t a Straggler, but it’s obvious they don’t want to make eye contact with anyone. They shuffle from place to place making as little human interaction as possible. Other travelers say hello and they don’t even turn their head to acknowledge them. They are sticking to their comfort zone, their routine, their schedule.

* The Explorer – This type seems to be surprisingly rare. Their head is on a swivel, taking in all that is along their path. They seek newness, ask questions, and clearly are able to alter their plan on a whim. Meeting a new traveler or hearing about a new idea is invigorating to the journey. They aren’t afraid to approach the table directly and explore, “What is this all about?”

Every one of these traveling personality types are present around the baggage claims of our lives. They all are unique and won’t be disappearing anytime soon. In the hustle and bustle, perhaps a good question to ask ourselves is, “How do we want to move throughout the world?”

As the great theologian, Ferris Bueller, reminded us, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around every once in awhile, you may miss it.”

I’ll meet you at the baggage claim.

Jason Barger is an author, speaker and creator of the Step Back from the Baggage Claim movement.