Humour Shows We're Human

There’s a fascinating comparison to be made between Terminal 5 at Heathrow and its equivalent in Zurich. Both have satellite terminals. And both are linked to the main building by driverless train.

Jump on board either and you are whisked at a fair old lick to baggage collection. But there is a difference. On Heathrow’s shuttle, you just stand, sardine like, staring at nondescript tunnel walls. Not so in Zurich.

First of all, as you wait for the train, you notice a large yellow sign with the words ‘Mountains 50 metres’ on it and an arrow pointing towards the tunnel. And then once on board, as you enter the subway, cow bells sound and yodelling starts. As the train picks up momentum, images of the Swiss Alps appear, projected onto the outside walls. You just have to smile. And for those few seconds, one person’s sense of humour reaches out and touches you.

They didn’t have to do this. They didn’t have to spend the money. But they did and turned a soulless airport into something more personal and human. Which made me think: when did it get written that public communication always has to be po- faced?

May be a touch of humour and a human to human communication would work wonders for distressing airport, railway or motorway, environments. Even supermarkets could benefit from a touch of humour as Trader Joe’s (see below) and Stew Leonard stores in the States have shown.