For a second, I was worried that wouldn’t have anything to write about this time. A trip through Newark Airport just wouldn’t be the same without arriving 2 hours early and not seeing anything that’s blogworthy. The shuttle ride was okay, security was relatively smooth; nothing terribly interesting. And then I saw it. A small sticker on the glass separating the lines of impatient people about to go through the metal detectors:
Have a suggestion? tsa.gov/blog
The Transportation Security Administration now has their very own blog. Well, I had to laugh. I wonder if they write about the same things as I do? (they probably have even more to say, I’m sure) I do actually have a suggestion, that they put interesting stories about airport misadventures in their blog. I think I’ll send them a link to this first.
If it were not for that sticker, I’d have nothig to write about today. A blog inspiring a blog. Blogs do have a tendency to make writings on seemingly uninteresting things readable. Example? What you’re reading now, or the “Stuff White People Like” blog. Okay, okay, admittedly it’s the writing that makes them readable, but blogs give this informal writing about oddball topics a home. Otherwise, it would stay on the pages of my notebook, where few would see it.
I include the time instead of the gate number in this entry because it is of slightly more relevance than usual. Normally when you’re waiting in the airport, the last thing you want to look at is the time; a snail’s pace reminder of how long you have to wait. And today, I got an early start in the waiting game.
“How’s the 11:00am flight sound?” My dad asked weeks ago.
“Sounds great,” I replied.
No, it doesn’t sound great. It sounds like an alarm going off at 6:21am. How’d we get from 11am to 6:21am? Try and stay with me, this part goes fast. Wake up, make sure all your stuff is in order, shower, shave, get dressed, grab whatever food you can, be out the door by 6:50. Drive to the shuttle station, get on the shuttle, move to the back seat so the old lady doesn’t have to. Regret it the whole ride there because you feel your spine being rearranged every time the shuttle hits a bump. Get off the shuttle, get out your boarding pass and then halt. Big smiles now, it’s time for the fun. Going through security. Spend all morning trying to get everything together, and now you have to go in reverse. Take your shoes off, belt off, wallet and keys out, unpack your laptop. It eventually looks like 4 lines of overdressed adults getting ready for a slumber party. Everyone goes through, everyone beeps and gets sent back to take out their phone or whatever they forgot. No beeps, PJ party over. Everyone hustles to reclaim their bags, their shoes, phones, and whatever dignity they have left and get to the terminal.
I finally sit down at gate A30. Gate A31 is full of people but nobody waiting for A30. I hear over the intercom “Now boarding… Flight to Saint Louis.”
No way. There’s no way the security circus took that long. I check my phone: 9:05am. My flight to Saint Louis doesn’t board until 10:30. I got here so quick, I’m just in time to watch the flight before mine take off. As the kids say these days, FML. I guess for how many complaints there are about airport security, they do sometimes do a painfully efficient job.
Nobody comes back from an airport saying, “Wow, that was a really good experience.” The waiting through the slow lines of security, the crowds of traveling people, the food (see previous entries). Airports are modern day disasterpieces. I reason I say “disasterpiece” is because although airports are a bloody awful mess 11 out of 10 times you go, they do offer an environment which allows some very unique things to happen. 100 people stuffed into a pressurized cabin of joy. Of course, people do this sort of things every day on buses and trains; but at 30,000 feet, you’re stuck next to your new traveling buddy no matter how fat and stanky, old and senile, or young and obnoxious they are, proving that there are some things worse than death. (Most airlines stopped offering euthanasia in the mid 90’s, along with those little golden wing pins. *nostalgia*) They haven’t stopped offering drinks though. But the conversation a little different now a days.
Flight Attendant: Would you like any thing to drink?
Passenger: Yes, can I just have some water please?
Flight Attendant: You can purchase some water. That will be $3.50. Credit or debit only.
Economic recession has made for some very passive aggressive flight attendants. Not that I’m complaining, it’s just one of those bitter sweet quirks of modern air travel. (without the sweet part) Another one is when they announce, “This flight is a non-smoking flight and the no smoking signs will remain lit throughout our flight.”
I bet you $3.50 that those no smoking signs can’t even turn off. I’ve never seen them off.
Another airline rule- “No sharp metal objects such as scissors, toenail clippers, etc. All liquids must be placed in a clear zip top bag.” But there’s no rules against sharp pens filled with ink? Good thing, because if they didn’t allow pens, this entry would be much more… non existent.
Even with all the shortcomings of air travel today, going to the airport has never been more… interesting. Where else can you see lines of business people with no shoes on getting felt up by Newark Airport’s finest? If you decide to fly and turn a blind eye to these seeming inconveniences, you’ll be missing out on some quite interesting stories.
But hey, that’s what I’m here for right?
I sit at Gate C25 all the way as the ass end of Lambert International Airport. Nobody is speaking English. It’s 9 am, and all the English speaking people are too tired to talk. The man in the cowboy hat and bright teal shirt rubs his eyes. They probably hurt from the glare off his shirt; it’s the brightest thing in this end of the terminal. The Chinese man sitting a seat away from me chatters away on the phone. It sounds like he’s reading from a bowl of alphabet soup, or maybe alphabet cereal since its still early. The tall blonde woman in high heels speaks Spanish over her phone then sits down. Everyone stops talking for a little while. English words finally break the silence as they crackle over the intercom.
Flight number 464 going to Newark International Air-
“Shiiit,” I say to myself. I know what he’s going to say before he finishes. My flight has been delayed. Again.
As I wait, I see the pilots boarding. One of them has a sugar-free Monster energy drink. The same kind of sugar-free Monster energy drink I have at my summer job when I feel like a zombie and have to unload a truck. I hope he’s not drinking it because he feels that way. He’s about to fly me 40,000 feet up in the air and over a 1,000 miles away, and I don’t like the idea of my safety being fueled 250 milligrams of taurine.
Outside Gate 32 this time. The bagel last time was like eating adhesive, so I buy a muffin. Dry, but I can swallow it without chewing it a dozen times. The woman in front of me complains about her coffee. Lady. Seriously. It’s airport coffee. Newark airport coffee. I sit down to eat my drought of a muffin and watch todays exciting CNN loop. Obama’s VP soon revealed! The story is run back to back with a report about how the recently discovered Bigfoot body was a hoax. Com’mon CNN, we could have told you that.
My jaw begins to ache as I chew on my rubber band bagel outside gate 34. At least I know I’ve burned more calories chewing it then it probably has. Newark airport isn’t that crowded but then again, it is wednesday. The TV shows the looping CCN broadcast of Obama winning the Democrating nomination. I watch it 3 times before looking away.
Boarding time. Everyone lines up so fast that even the lady in the wheelchair with the assistant makes it in line before me.
I get a lung full of semi- fresh Newark air as I walk on the pathway connecting the terminal and the plane. I peer into the cockpit and can’t help but think of how much the controls look like all those old mechwarrior games from the 90’s. Modern games have much better graphics, you’d think planes would too, right?