I see people in the airport and I promise myself I will no longer be them. I’ve always been them.
I get to my gate and there are three flights pushed ahead of mine, and three flights’ worth of passengers pushed in front of me. They have snacks at the check-in table. That can’t be good. I watch as a girl and her boyfriend wait in line to see if they’ve gotten off the standby list. The girl holds a packet of cheese sandwich crackers. You know, the orange ones. The guy wears a puffer vest and brown hiking boots. He looks optimistically nervous; she looks truly pissed. When I glance back up, she’s pushing away from the desk, her whole body zinging with that kind of air-hockey tension, combustibility, like you don’t know towards which direction she could shoot off. She mouths shit (like a drawn out shiiiiiiit, with a bite on the t), her eyes roll back in her head, and she stomps off to find their next flight. Her boyfriend trails hopelessly behind, the disappointer. He knows he didn’t do this to them, bump them from standby, but his mere presence means he’s the closest puck off of which she can ricochet.
I’m that girl. I’m the one who can’t keep her fucking chill. Everything is a colossal inconvenience to me and to me only. I brought my suitcase on the subway on my way to this very airport situation, and no one even considered moving out of the way for me. How dare they? I didn’t realize how rude New Yorkers were until I took the subway with my suitcase at rush hour. Sure, stare at your phone as you’re walking down the train station stairs like a zombie as the only F train that isn’t 21 minutes away arrives, that’s fine. Don’t hold doors for the person behind you, that’s okay. But watch a girl try to make herself and her bags as small as possible in order to just…use public transportation and not even attempt to procure extra space? Fuck you and everyone in New York. Yes, sir, I am going to roll my overpacked suitcase over your foot. You are welcome.
Don’t get me wrong, never would I ever move out of the way for anyone carrying a suitcase on the subway at rush hour. You think you can bring your massive house-on-wheels on the train at prime time? Think again, buddy. Take an Uber.
I’m working on this. I promise myself I will chill. While I watched perturbed Raleigh-destined airport rats (or, as some call them, people) grab free Rice Krispies and Cheez-Its from the basket on the check-in counter, I sat on a railing and remained calm. My flight was delayed, too, and I’d been worried, earlier, that I wasn’t going to be able to make my flight straight from work. So I’d rushed to construction-war-zone LaGuardia only to sit in the weird part of Terminal C that’s down a baby escalator flight, that was actually a cool 95 degrees, just to watch this Raleigh flight get delayed. That’s okay, I don’t care. I have all the time in the world.
I watched people make friends. Casual conversations are struck. This guy wants to be an actor, Brian Cranston is his idol and he met him outside of his Broadway show. This girl is going to North Carolina to visit her friend for the weekend, she needs to be back on Monday. Who makes friends at the airport? Is that what you’re supposed to do? This isn’t The Terminal. (I kind of wish this was The Terminal. Except why is it implied that all flight attendants are, well, flighty mistresses? Why is there no fidelity in this world? Catherine Zeta-Jones would never hold on for Mister I’ll-Never-Leave-My-Wife. Honestly, though, fuck you, Catherine Zeta-Jones. Find a non-married man. Fuck you, too, though, obviously, Mister — your wife doesn’t deserve you. Okay, I’ll unpack The Terminal next time.)
I watched a man miss the 3-hour delayed Raleigh flight. He runs down the baby escalator. He’s not wearing a coat. He’s panting. The gate attendants wave their hands towards the jetway doors as they say, “Oh, that plane is gone.” He doesn’t wait a beat, just turns around and runs back the way he came. Good for him, I think. Problem solver. I’m a little confused as to how he could’ve possibly missed a flight that had Delta giving out snacks at the check-in counter (yeah, I’m still not over that) and why he wasn’t wearing a coat until I realize he probably had a connecting flight. Coming, I’m guessing, from somewhere warm. That was also probably delayed. Because LaGuardia. Ohhhhh.
Two pilots stand directly in front of me, like I’m not there. I guess they’re trying to keep the aisleway clear, but it feels a little aggressive and I’m kind of mad at them for it. Have you ever had a female pilot? I had one on a tiny plane from Tortola to San Juan. She was awesome and literally had those Ray Ban aviators. But I think that’s the only female pilot I’ve ever had. These two pilots standing in front of me are men. Hands in pockets, those ridiculous carry-ons that are half the size of the already-shrinking regular carry-ons. I decide I want a snack so I maneuver around their pilot shadows. One of them says jollily, “Oh, let me get that out of your way,” and makes a gesture like he’s going to move his suitcase. He doesn’t. I walk up to the table and grab some Cheez-Its. I’m away from my bag for all of 14 seconds, but I can’t help but think...unattended baggage… That’s the nice thing about traveling with someone, they’re there to watch your bag while you get snacks. They’re also there to be the hockey puck.
That’s what I’m trying to work on. Not needing a hockey puck. Not needing someone to tell me to chill the fuck out. Not everything has to come crashing down. Sometimes things just don’t work. Sometimes you don’t get off the standby list. Sometimes all of the fruit snacks are gone at the Delta check-in desk and you can only have Cheez-Its. Sometimes you should just say shit without saying shiiiiiiit. Sometimes it will all be okay even when there are three flights backed up ahead of yours. You have all the time in the world.