The airport, like Vegas, never sleeps. It’s six in the morning but it might as well be midday. People everywhere, hustling. I’m on the flat escalator, catatonic with sleep deprivation, watching the airport workers outside. Their activity can best be described as ant-like, both in their movements, which you can describe as “scurrying” at this distance, and also because of the idea that each worker has a job, a purpose, seemingly disparate, but if you pull back far enough, you realize that they are all working toward one goal. That goal being: to get your ass and luggage to their destination in one piece.
The airport is a people watchers wet dream. All you have to do is find a seat and the people stream by, endlessly, ebbing and flowing but always constant. You can tell when a flight has just let out because the steady murmur of ambient noise grows to a temporary roar and the flow of people turns to a flood.
Though Arizona is majority Hispanic, the airport is majority white. And there are a lot of wheelchairs. A disproportionate amount to the general population. The airline attendants, the ones pushing the wheelchairs and driving the hospitality carts, seem uniformly happy and engaged with their wards. They seem to be the only happy ones here, frankly. The rest of the people seem harried and sad. No one makes eye contact in the airport. You can watch as you walk past them: their eyes slide over and past you with no focus, as if they are trying to look at something in the distance behind you and you are temporarily inconveniencing their view.
Pilots are readily noticeable with their captain’s hats and shoulder stripes and their seeming inability to walk alone, forever accompanied by their copilots. They are all white and tall with salt and pepper hair. Pilots seem to be the only type of person that passersby focus on. Some even nod or smile. While it seemed silly to afford pilots the type of respect they received in the past, it’s heartwarming to know that they still command some respect; though the realization also gives me a small and strange pang of nostalgia, a sense of loss.
Rolling suitcases are in vogue and contrast sharply to the old adidas gym bag I pressed into service as my luggage. The new hotness seems to be not the rolling suitcases that trail behind you, but the ones whose handle you sort of lean on and push vaguely to the front and side of you. It reminds me of a patient pushing around their IV bag in the halls of a hospital.
I’ve been sitting here for an hour and finally saw my first runner. She moves in that awkward self-conscious gait that’s more of a trot than an all out sprint. I hope she makes her flight.
Uggs are back, even among some trendier older women. Shit, maybe Uggs never left in Arizona.
People on their smartphones with one of two looks: the glazed state of someone who knows they’re going to be sitting where they’re sitting for a while, else the passionate fervency of one who believes that what they are looking at is of utmost importance. It makes me wonder just what they are looking at indeed: a text from president Obama? The last few minutes of a basketball game that they’ve bet their child’s college fund on? Though, if we are going by statistics, fully 1/3 of the people looking at their smartphones right now are looking at porn. That thought makes me giggle in my seat, and the middle aged lady nearest me looks over and smiles, but (unconsciously?) shifts her weight and bag further away from me.
There’s a man violently coughing about five rows behind me in the waiting area and you know everyone’s thinking the same thing: I’m going to have to spend two hours on a flight with this guy?
A man three seats down from me is talking with his speakerphone. I’m trying not to eavesdrop but from what I do hear of it, it sounds like it should be a private conversation. Lots of f-bombs and an argument about a man named Devin. Funny that I’m the one who feels self-conscious. Eventually the pain of it becomes too much to bear, and I excuse myself (to absolutely no one in particular) to use the bathroom.
Boarded now. On the flight over I had refused the window seat because I had read an article that said if you are afraid of flying, you should get an aisle seat in the hopes that it might avert some of the claustrophobia you might feel on the flight. Now, having gotten over a lot of my anxiety about flying in the trip here, I’m happy to have a window seat.
Though my mind still boggles over the concept of flight, maybe I can maneuver around logic and simply accept that sometimes miracles do happen, and let go and enjoy it.
Let’s just see.