I love traveling, and I'm one of those rare-to-find-these-days travelers who doesn't completely flip out about nonsensical security measures. I don't get upset about luggage limits or the time constraints. I don't even mind the overpriced food or beverages. My husband and I both enjoy hanging out in the airport, simply waiting to fly somewhere magical (can you tell I need a vacation?). And while I realize not everyone feels this way, I never fully knew how toxic the airport atmosphere is until I walked through the Kansas City Airport recently to pick up my sister, visiting me to celebrate her birthday weekend.
Arriving in the outdoor lot across from her terminal, I leisurely drove around to find a convenient parking space. My search was momentarily interrupted when Jeff Gordon's wanna-be double came flying out of the underground garage and almost sideswiped me. He threw up his hands in the air, the non-verbal equivalent of What were you thinking, idiot? For the life of me, even though I tried, I couldn't figure out how driving down the lane clearly marked for driving was wrong. But I've been there, wanting to get home after a long flight. So it didn't affect me for long.
As I sat in my surprisingly comfortable seat outside her gate, I watched person after person walk by with an angry scowl on their face. One man, of course, had every right to--he was told even if his garment bag fit in the sample box provided, he would have to check it. Because, you know, it was a garment bag. Off he stormed, muttering and shaking his head. I'm with you, dude, I thought. Hang in there.
But then a very attractive blonde woman walked by. She looked directly at me, so I smiled. This, apparently, was a challenge to her, because her stare turned into a glare, which was followed by a flipping of her head in the other direction. Well, that's odd, I thought. She must be having a bad day.
As I saw two young friends embracing as one began the boarding process, I began to think about how the airport should be filled with love, emotion, and parting words to those you care enough about to at least transport to the airport. There's beer, and magazines, and a number of Starbucks kiosks. What could be so bad? Before I could come up with an answer, my wandering thoughts were interrupted by a businessman shouting to his friend who happened to be right beside him. "I have to pee," he announced. Then he glared at me, as if to say, "You're lucky I'm not peeing on you." I looked at the girl next to me so we could share a chuckle, or at least a roll of the eyes together. But she, too, stared back at me with the empty gaze of a zombie.
Even the sweet grandchild/grandparent good-bye was tainted with an air of anger. The mother, trying to organize her purse, pushed her blond angel in the opposite direction. "Tell Grandpa good-bye," she instructed.
"Bye, Grandpa!" he yelled, hugging his grandfather and bouncing like a bunny in a circle. I smiled to myself by this time, not even attempting to share it with anyone else. It was a good move on my part--the mother didn't even look up from her purse. When her son walked back to her, she simply gave him another shove. "Tell him good-bye again." Both grandfather and grandson seemed confused, but hugged, tentatively, trying to please the wicked witch mother.
By this point, I was starting to get irritated. Where was my sister? Why hadn't she landed yet? How much longer do I have to sit in this hellhole, where no one is happy, ever? And I found myself turning into--well, one of them. The pissed, the put-off, the put-upon. When I did finally see my sister, I grabbed her, hugged her, and whisked her out the door as soon as I could.
"I hate airports," I muttered, as we walked through the glass doors. A very nice-looking elderly couple stopped and turned to watch us. "What are you looking at?" I yelled, before my sister could pull me out the door.