Saturday, October 11, 2008


"Featured on my top ten list of places to hang yourself."

The airports I've been too have always been cold, no matter what time of the year. I figured it must always have had something to do with the amount of air flow that comes through the terminal-they would crank up the AC on the hot days, and on cold days, heat would usually escape through the large pains of glass that separates the customers from the elements outside. after thinking back to a few science classes about how heat travels, I realized that my notions about airport climates could just not be true, so I decided to chalk it up to inability for airport employees to understand what it was like to be human at some point in their life. generally, working in some establishment related tot the airline industry has a de-moralizing quality to it, almost as if Satan himself laid the blue-prints for every tarmac, every baggage carousel, and most certainly every airport express jamba juice.

I find that people who are employed by airports generally do not smile all that much, if ever. Whenever I buy a paper at the magazinery in an airport, I almost always leave a penny rather than take one, even if it means splitting a larger bill, mostly because I am utterly terrified that the man behind the counter will leap out at me with his tongue forked, scales shot-up, and hit eyes painfully crossed if I do not contribute to the giving end of the commercial taboo, its motto scawled on the edges a state lottery ash tray, that seems to find it's way into every airport cash register I ever been to in the states. So much to be abandoned. The Virginia State Lottery has a very distinct "take a penny" ash tray, as it is distinguished by its pool felt green finish and triangular mold. Since it is such a noticeable item, I can't help but notice it whenever I'm in a convenience store located in some other state than Virginia. For all I know, they're damn collector's items.

On a trip to Massachusetts I entered a Tom Thumb gas station vestibule to purchase a package of skittles. At the cashier, I noticed it; the Virginia Lottery's tray staring me straight in the middle of the forehead. Little things like this have a strange tendency to catch me off guard and lead to me asking pointless questions to people who really haven't got the time. "Any reason why you've got a Virginia ashtray?" I posed to a raisin faced man working the register. Such pointless questions get very charming, blunt responses: "For when my fucking cigarette gets ashes." At that time, I figured I better not mention that it really was for the "take a penny, leave a penny" policy, and decided that if I really wanted to get those skittles painlessly, I shouldn't question where this man ought to put out his smoke when it "got ashes." The poor phrasing he had chosen made it sound like cigarettes got diseases too.

Ever since the unpleasant experience in Massachusetts, I've become more cautious in my behavior, most effectively when I'm in Dulles or Reagan National. Only to add to my anxieties involving airports, I read an article in the washington post's outlook section the other day about how the ladder of the two locations will commence use of new security technology that will allow passengers' clothing to be seen through. Finally, now I can breathe easy knowing that my naked body will be seen the next time I choose to take a flight from the airport named after a president who probably approved the funding for the creation of such ludicrous technology as these peeping-tom scanners. All this for the sake of defending the homeland.

If it's any consolation to the reader, the article mentioned it was against Reagan National's "devout" costumer service policies if the examiners who operate the screenings came in contact with any customer who had been viewed in the nude. This raises to my mind, another potentially pointless question: Suppose an operator and a customer were to come in contact accidently, perhaps an unintentional rendezvous a la Cinnabon. (That seems altogether too hopeful, so more realistically: the airport's bathroom.) Now upon this encounter, what is that exact employee supposed to do? I came up with a list of preferable solutions:

- The employee apologizes with a complimentary "one free drink" waiver for the airport's Starbucks.

- You can opt out of the security screen, replaced by a relatively "easy going" frisking.

- or, simply, you get your ticket bumped to first class.

Restroom etiquette and apologetics I doubt are anyone's forte, especially a soul-less, voyeuristic, airport security employee.

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