Read an article recently in the Evening Standard:
"The Dispossessed: How this woman was saved from a life of sleeping rough with Heathrow’s homeless"
Which reminded me of an evening a few months ago when I did just that.I was working in Gatwick airport and had gone on a short trip to France and at the end of the trip arrived back to my 'work' destination. I'd arrived late and by the time I got out of the snaking midnight immigration queue, had already missed the last train. The funny thing was I didn't think of staying in a hotel (my student-save-money instinct kicked in) but decided to wait it out so that I could just get into the office in the morning. After all, it was only for 6 hours and I could go straight to work which was in the Longbridge House building in the North Terminal.
Gatwick was one of those airports which didn't shut down - no flights operated- but there were plenty of people waiting it out by sleeping. Some slept on the uncomfortable wooden benches, claiming the entire row like a settee....some curled along the walls, under escalators. The smarter ones went upstairs and slept on the Costa Coffee sofas. What I I had no idea was that some of them were genuine homeless people who'd found a 'safer' place to sleep than the streets.
It was the most uncomfortable night I've encountered - was upright most of the time (which was terribly bad for the back) and couldn't sleep which produced a buzzing lightheadedness compounding into a headache. My only consolation was that it would only last a few more hours. Passed the time checking mail on the internet terminal kiosk (which had a crappy screen) and looking for a better place to sit. By the time sunrise came at 4am, I had a genuine urge to flush my head in the toilet - the dazed, headachy feeling was that bad.My colleagues couldn't believe nor understand why I didn't want to check into the Yotel at least...Right now I don't understand it either.
After that one night in the airport, I have genuine sympathy for these people. I think I was meant to read this article and understand the overall terrible sufferings of being homeless. (which sleeping in the airport is only just a small part of it) If 6 hours was that bad, I couldn't imagine a few weeks, a few months of not being able to sleep in peace. I count my blessings for having a proper bed to lie in everyday.