Airports remind me of certain high maintenance people that we all know.
We all know them, right? They ask us to go out on the town with them but it’s always an ordeal. We have to get dressed up, the place we go is expensive. The food we eat is horrible but we pretend it’s not and the drinks are over-priced and watered down. We are paying for the experience, not for the product. Actually, the product is the experience and we should be grateful that they allowed us in the place in the first place.
That’s exactly what airports are.
I want to be clear about air travel. You are basically being thrown into the air in a metal container with only physics keeping you afloat. It’s not magic. It’s not even very technical. Wind goes over a wing, causing lift. The faster the air over the wing, the more lift. There is more stuff, true, like cabin pressure and stuff. But, let’s not kid ourselves. Flying an aircraft and throwing a ball are basically the same damn things.
I was flying to Chicago for Thanksgiving and my plane was leaving at 6:10am. The gates didn’t open until 4:30am.
There we were, hundreds of us in a line, holding our bags, reading the warnings, waiting as they set up all the security measures. The vinyl rope gates. The ticket scanners. The white buckets to push our items through the metal detectors. Once they let us in, we all rushed, hurrying to give them our identification, to take our shoes off, to take out coats off, to take out belts off, to take the change out of our pockets, to take our sweaters off, to be scanned by a device so they they can see everything. Exposure. Complete exposure.
After I was radioactively assaulted, I sat to put my shoes back on. A man sat next to me.
“It’s not like this everyone,” he whispered. He was telling me a secret. I leaned in to listen. “I flew out of Italy. They don’t care. They barely even look at you. You could sneak a bomb on the plane and they would probably shrug their shoulders.”
He stood up, stared into my eyes. Into my soul?
“It’s all a show,” he said, walking away.
My thought: Should I report this guy? I didn’t think it for very long.
After I got my coffee, I sat and looked at my ticket. My fight left at 6:10am. The gate I was at said 6. The plane numbers were wrong. I sat there for five minutes trying not to vomit. I was at the wrong gate.
Going through airport security once is a horrible experience. Twice? Before the sun came up? I’m surprised I didn’t cry.
“This is your Captain speaking,” the man said but he wasn’t Captain Picard or Kirk so he wasn’t my fucking captain. “This will be a pretty quick flight. Clear skies and good visibility.
It was raining.
“Please put your phone away, sir,” The flight attendant told me. I put it away.
“It is off?” she asked.
“Of course,” I said with a smile. She walked away.
It was on.
Fun fact. I refuse to turn my cellphone off when I fly.
My body causes more electromagnetic radiation than my cellphone. Also, I’m not sure if that’s true or not but I believe it so it’s true.
Walking out of the airplane and into O’hare Airpot always gives me, I don’t know. What’s that feeling? Joy? I don’t feel it as often as I’d like. It wasn’t that long ago that I was just a poor country kid. I never entertained the idea of travel and when I did think about it, I never took it too seriously. Now when I travel, I’m not even nervous. Weirder, I don’t worry about where I’m going or what I’m doing. I’m not saying I’m a veteran of the air. I’m not a perfect traveler. But I do feel a strange sense of awe at myself and my personal growth. I never take my opportunities for granted and I’m always humbled that I can leave the nations capital and fly to one of the coolest cities in the country just because I feel like it.
I just wish I wasn’t pulsed with low-level radiation just to do it.