All the feels at international arrivals in South Africa
All the feels at international arrivals in South Africa. Photo supplied

In our efforts to be the most resilient nation who always bounces back, makes a power joke or memes of it all whilst hitting send just before load shedding, I feel as South Africans we are at times numb… writes Samantha Jacobs.

We have so much to feel that is mostly, largely, out of our control that we switch off, often – just like Eskom.

Are we as a nation “feelings shedding?”

We decide not to feel, not to watch the news, not to participate, not to feel and as a coping mechanism we become numb.

“No, we aren’t talking about the country’s problems at this braai.” “No boet, I don’t want to talk about junk status today, okay” as we turn the coals…

I blame COVID largely, and then our government. The severe amount of negativity, constant baseless rules and regulations that we had no control over, the lack of justice, harsh fuel increases and of course hadedas.

No one should be woken by dinosaur birds screaming.

In our resilience we became numb.

Recently whilst waiting at the international arrivals terminal I wasn’t so numb. I arrived slightly after my over-eager family, and since I was wearing 1-hour shoes, I paused a while at the top of the high volume view area, and looked down.

Besides my family – who seemed to be physically levitating off the ground with excitement – I saw so many people feeling a whole lot of feelings.

Some were feeling irritation as the flights were delayed, as they sat peering ahead in ironed suits holding crisp boards with their client’s name.

Part of me wanted to say “Hello, I am Juergen Milas…” just to tease them, but they were painfully serious.

A man who nailed the entire blue shirt, blue denims, tan belt and shoes combo sat twirling a bunch of red roses. Seemingly enthusiastic for some overly romantic reunion, there was nothing that was going to ruin his day.

Gogos sat in beaded head rests fanning themselves with a folded-up newspaper; anxious uber drivers, who had been privately mandated, scurried around as they watched the time – their free parking tickets were soon to run out.

The doors opened, most of those on foot shuffled forward, my parents – who normally complain about their backs – were now literally jumping, and 12 uniformed sports students and four exhausted coaches exited with a burst and cheer from their school who were waiting in the hall.

I can tell you they won, big, whatever sport it was. They aced it and people, even the newspaper-fanning Gogo starting dancing, clapping and waving their hands in the air, like they just did care.

Our future generation clearly did us so proud in, wait, let me look at the arrivals board… Germany. They aced it in Germany.

Slowly but surely the business people found their clients; loud and slow introductions took place to ease the language barrier. My grandparents always said South Africans speak too fast so it was good to see an almost static “hello. I. Am. Pieter” as the Swiss arrival leant forward to hear louder.

The sportspeople were still singing.

The doors opened again and a Turkish flight crew disembarked, reminding us that we should all make more effort with our hair and make up. After 18-36 hours these ladies looked incredible. One really does have to ask how they do it.

They swanned across the tiles in heels I may add, with suitcases in tow smiling, slightly flirting without knowing it, to the extent that the rose-carrying guy in denim even smiled.

After a big pause, I eventually came down the escalators that I always seem to miscalculate, and met with my family who managed half a greeting.

After calculating that the flight was still disembarking I made my way to a corner coffee shop where the double doors were still in view.

I really wanted to see if the recipient of the roses was as pretty as the flight attendants and “hey wena!” the blue denim guy for his wandering eyes.

Women need to stick together.

And as I started to stir a surprisingly well-made Cappuccino, the doors opened and it was the 4th and 5th generation of our family, who arrived to visit us from Europe.

Tired, hangry and a little shy the soon to be 30 and 4-year-old made their way to my family who lunged over the coffee store’s railing and skidded across the floor to hug, sigh, cry and be way more enthusiastic than what they were when I said hello.

Like, 580 times more.

Reunited. Again. A Great Grandmother, a Gran, a mom and her kid and their respective husbands all shrieking, laughing and “aahhh Angel!” in unison.

It was a lot.
They miss out on a lot, cry a lot, but somehow take off from where they last left off… which was in the departure hall by the way.

The 4-year-old – now recognizing the human faces from Zoom and FaceTime – scrunched her nose and did a little jive to show us how wonderful she really was.

True to their style, my family caused a slight traffic congestion at those double doors, and more of the business people dispersed; the school, now hoarse from singing, jumped on the escalators correctly.

I looked around at my blotchy-faced family and saw the recipient of the roses. She sure was pretty. They hugged and smooched and I don’t think he thought about the flight attendants.

My family split up to go to their respective parkings, and I looked round as a few kids with neon signs ran in front of their parents, who were now arriving to meet people.

Toblerone or some exotic packet of sweets surely awaited them.

There was so much happiness. So many feelings – no numbness; and whilst I rode the escalators I thought how I should try come for coffee in this terminal every few months to feel stuff.

If only I could just find my parking ticket.

By Samantha Jacobs