Friday, April 28, 2006

Taking Off

I would hate airports if it weren't for people watching. The crappy food is overpriced, there's too much time spent waiting in lines, poor pedestrian circulation and unfriendly airport workers should make for a horrible flying experience. But I'm happy in my cozy seat by the window. I could be facing the window, watching the huge hunks of metal called airplanes take off and land which has always fascinated me. Or I could be enjoying the soring day's sunlight. Instead, I have my back to the windows. I am facing the moving walkway and the rest of the seating at Gate D5.

I see four men in my vicinity with laptops. One younger guy is obviously on a business trip. He is typing away in his headset and his crisp blue button-down & khakis with his suit coat tossed strategically over his briefcase so as not to wrinkle it too much. He is talking loudly and confidently to Jerry in Atlanta.

One other guy is older, he may be working- he's also got the khakis and he gazes very seriously at his screen with his index finger at his lips, his chin supported by his thumb. Another guy is dressed in his "In-N-Out Burger" t-shirt, faded jeans and his tired white sneakers. He is not on a business trip. I would assume he was surfing porn if his back weren't to the main circulation of the D concourse.

Then there are all the old people. They are so adorable. You can tell they aren't at all comfortable with technology and they have way too much time on their hands. The old man with the beard is reading the newspaper through his bifocals, frequently checking his watch. The old lady behind him has a head of unnaturally dark dark permed hair. She has a perfectly matching pink outfit with tiny embroidered flowers and shiny gold jewelry. She is reading a small book, probably a romance novel, trying to relive her younger days. She moves slowly and she has a hard time understanding why she had to take her shoes off at security and how the man at the gate can just wave her ticket under the blue light and with a beep, POOF! She's ready to go.

Then there's the big youngish guy with the obnoxious "DUCKS FOOTBALL" t-shirt who's reading "Truckin" magazine. In a lot of ways, he is still in college even though he graduated 6 years ago. He's still got his goatee and buzz cut, the same style he's had since his junior year of high school, only now he's sporting the band on his left ring finger, so he doesn't have to comb his hair if he wakes up late.

And THEN.... there are kids. Kids are perhaps the most entertaining of all airportgoers, whether they're at the airport or not. I always wonder how some poor mother gets stuck withOUT her husband but with three kids and all their crap for hours and hours in confined space and the boring setting of the airport. These moms are forced to pack and be responsible not just for themselves, but clothing, toys, diapers and food galore for THREE more people. (I've never seen a mom with more than three.) On top of that, she has to entertain and keep track of them the whole time. Just keeping track of THREE kids makes me cringe. Sometimes, the kid who is old enough to walk carries his own backpack or rolling suitcase and a complementary Batman figurine or Dora the Explorer doll in hand, making it complicated to mount the moving walkway. I have to give kudos to mom for delegating some of the load.

But kids ON the plane is another thing. On one flight I had long ago, I was suffering from a horrible headache. Some family thought it would be a great idea to bring one of those beeping, buzzing, dinging toys that their child adored. Thankfully, I was not the only one who also didn't adore the damn toy. There was the time (or many times) that I boarded the plane hungover as all hell and....sweet! Two kids in the seats directly behind me. Can someone tell me how you can let your kids repeatedly kick the seat in front of you, never suggesting that it might be rude, disruptive and inconsiderate. Parents- always assume that the person in front of you has a REALLY bad hangover. Imagine what that would be like....and act accordingly- I beg you. Or drug your kids beforehand. It's good karma. Some of us still aren't convinced that we want children at all.

It still amazes me how these high maintenance suburban women can wear heels and 8 pounds of makeup and not break a nail digging through their hideous knock-off purse for their $20 lip gloss. (Why the hell do you need lip GLOSS walking through the airport anyway?)

I sat next to a guy once who talked pretty much the entire 3 1/2 hour flight. He expressed early on that flying made him very nervous, which I had already gathered by the time of disclosure. It wasn't just his endless nervous chatter, it was also his white knuckles at take off along with his incessant figeting that clued me in. Anything that resembled even minor turbulence, my new friend would tense up like he was being tazered. I did my community service that day, that's for sure.

I do quite enjoy taking off & landing though. I find it so exhilarating. Or at least it's more exciting than beverage service. I like take-off because of the speed, the acceleration. It is so relaxing to just sit back and feel heavy, like putting that lead vest on at the dentist's office. And near the end of the runway you can feel the nose of the plane starting to point upward and then suddenly, every tiny blemish on the tarmac is gone and you feel light again.

On arrival, you can see the ground getting closer and closer you see your destination as a patchwork, bisected by lines and scattered with dots. I like the anticipation of the moment when we will kiss the ground and dip an bit....and sometimes bounce! How exciting!! Weeeee! Buh-bye Portland. I love you.


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