(This is a flashback.)
It occurs to me that airports are epically desolate places. False cheeriness scantily masks the perversion of the mechanized system. The corporate barista’s words are of the utmost imitation of politeness. Ma’am and best wishes for the quality of my day do not belie the boredom desperation self-loathing in his eyes. I get it. I was him. A waitress at the imitation miniature restaurant feigns interest in an overweight patron’s overexcited detailed recounting of regular business trips. Press the buttons. Sashay, but it’s all a show.
Board and disboard. Plane and deplane? Maintenance will come – maybe an hour – maybe they’ll fix what’s wrong. The pilot’s voice over the loudspeaker was variously interpreted as citing the malfunction requiring inspection to be variously a terrier, a chair, a bear, or a tear. A dog? In any case. Panic panic panic ensues. Someone – some well-dressed women – are supposed to catch a flight to Venice for a cruise.
The jetway door stays open too long, the lights flash, the buzzers go. She is frazzled. 700 things at once. The anxious line up. Will I make it? Karma. C’est la vie and que sera sera and all that jazz. As they say. I takes a lot of brain power and mental clarity; just relax. They get to go but we can’t? Perspective. Maintain a reasonable perspective, that’s the key.
The captain comes out, sighs, is summoned by the frizzle frazzle woman. Take a break, take a breath. Not a good sign. Didn’t anyone ever tell them? Business travelers are way better at this than the pleasurers. No sense of the thing, really. And something bizarre is going on down at Gate 11. It’s a high school chemistry experiment with old guys in TSA royal blue.
The air is tense. Leg shaking and antic gum chewing – don’t you dare pop that bubble. Reassurance or resignation as the minutes tick by. It wanes, nervous travelers craft contingency plans and turn to gossip and idle chatter. Still a few line up, run guy run! Catch that JFK. Give your seat to the old folks and count on the karma. Banter banter, devastation sinks into the remote.
She’s going to need a drink. “She’s not gonna be allowed near any weapons,” says the jolly-eyed white-haired business man. Stretch. Chuckle. The science experiment moves closer. Vials and Q-tips – plane-side cavity search? Litmus testing for acidic personalities? Just an excuse to stand around and look important while you shoot the shit about diesel engines or your wife’s pies or this new-fangled thing they call technology? These mustachioed geysers don’t seem to enthralled with their task.
The baggage hold is declared out of order but crafty rearranging and an innocent visage solves that problem. Replane, half the passengers have vanished in search of greener pastures (JFK) so extra baggage is absolutely no big deal. Spread out. Un-rearrange. Ready, set, go.
Have fun in Venice, and the jolly-eyed man is now swearing under his breath.