Sitting under a leafy tree enjoying the winter sunshine, I rocked slowly back and forth, feeling calm and disconnected from the folks who hurried by. As I caught up on some reading, I realized how unusual the setting really was. Was I observing small town life from my grandmother’s porch swing? No, I was enjoying a 3-hour layover in the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, along with a few dozen other travelers.
The Charlotte rockers started back in 1997 as a prop for a temporary photography exhibit called “Porchsitting, A Charlotte Regional Family Album.” The chairs were placed in the tree-lined atrium of the main terminal with the intention to convey the relaxing comfort of the traditional southern porch. They quickly became more than idle accents. Travelers enjoyed rocking and complained when the chairs were removed at the end of the exhibit. In response, they were brought back and became a permanent fixture.
Airport rockers have now become a trend and are a hit in some of the nation’s busiest airports, including Dallas/Ft. Worth, San Diego and Seattle. Handmade rockers were also recently introduced in four airports in Finland. Named “Kennedy Rockers,” the chairs at CLT are handcrafted in North Carolina from aged oak logs and modeled after the type that John F. Kennedy used to alleviate back pain.
Rocking may also have therapeutic benefits, and studies conducted at the Medical College of Virginia have shown that kinetic therapy can dramatically accelerate healing in severely ill patients. In fact, rocking can be beneficial for everything from nurturing premature babies, building mother-child attachment and soothing autistic children and adults to providing relief for arthritis patients.
I’m not claiming that the rocker is a miracle cure for every condition, but hey – it can’t hurt. A willing “test subject,” I can confirm that rocking did indeed help with the back pain and stress that I experienced while lugging heavy bags around. And it does seem to reduce the stress associated with air travel. So if you have a choice between passing through Charlotte Douglas International and another busy hub, trust me – rocking in Charlotte is the way to go.