Bad systems breed bad moods.


I’m sitting at gate 7-10 at Perth airport, ready to get out of this town. Airports are my prime places to be grumpy. They’re so often a cesspool of illogical procedure and redundant protocol. It breeds the worst in people and I’m not immune. I’m sitting at this multi-purpose gate, labelled with what seems to be a temporary hand-made sign while the airport construction expands the place into further inefficiency.

To begin with, I made the mistake of misreading my flight itinerary. My New Year’s resolution is to double check everything. I mean everything. The amount of text messages and emails I send that end up needing an embarrassed apology is well beyond my lifetime quota. I’m sure you’re now looking for a spelling error or something in this post just so you can comment with a snarky remark in the vein of “ah ha”. Fuck you. Sorry. The air here is thick with infuriation. I misread the terminal I was meant to be at and Perth likes to keep its terminals lightyears apart. I arrived early enough to redeem myself but it’s these small surges of stress that snowball into a pulsing rage. Airports are the best at this.

The above may seem a trivial matter but humans are fallible. I’m sure I’m not the first, and will not be last, to make this so called terminal mistake. Let’s say this happens daily at Perth Airport. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to do something like change the email format so that the terminal number of departure isn’t so close to the terminal number of the arrival? Doing so would take time and money; two things businesses are seldom willing to waste on “general wellbeing” and “minimised human error”. It’s unfair, and unkind, to leave people to deal with their inevitable faults instead of creating a more accommodating system.

Some may argue it’s drab to complain about such things. Others may argue it’s all my fault and I’m trying to shirk the responsibility. I agree both sentiments in some regards but my point is this: better systems create a better world. The implications of creating something good in one place can resonate in many ways into the global picture. Here’s another example: if supermarkets worked better, there would be less waste and more food going to those who need it. A friend of mind is a dumpster diver and has collected thousands of dollars worth of groceries that were well within their expiry date. The only reason they get tossed is because a fresher shipment arrives before stock is sold out and customers prefer the new stuff. “Well then, Simon. What brilliant system have you come up with to solve this problem and save the world?” None. I’m at an airport and I’m grumpy. My brain is set to complain, not innovate. Plus, it’s not my job to know the intricacies of supermarket or airport functionality. I’ve taken on the role of pointing it out for others to solve. Fingers crossed.

I wrote another paragraph about people lining up at the gate way before they need to, pushing each other and being a general pack of animals all just to get their seats a few seconds earlier than everyone else. I didn’t enjoy reading over it so I thought I’d spare you my indulgence of whinging. You’ve flown. You get it. I wouldn’t hesitate to assume you can come up with a pamphlet filled with your own observations of shitty airports breeding shitty behaviour. It’s worth speaking out about these things, I think. Write a letter. Tap out a blog. Maybe someone who reads it will be in a position to create a better system one day. That way we can all live in harmony and save dolphins or something. I don’t know. Looking around at all these tired, pushy passengers I would hope a better system might make us all a bit happier and I’d say that’s reason enough to try.


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