Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Dig: People Watching at the Airport
So I just went on a nice, relaxing vacation. Flew from GRR to ORD and landed in BOS. Stayed overnight in Boston and then proceeded to spend a week in (or is it "on"?) Cape Cod. Ate lots of seafood and drank some good local brews. For those of you who leave your houses (don't laugh - there are plenty of freaks who only journey from their mom's basement to their twin bed with the Star Trek sheets), you know that there can be a lot of downtime when flying. This particular trip didn't have too many long layovers but my trip home was the day after some psychos were planning to blow up a plane using liquid explosives so there was plenty of extra time for me to sit on my caboose. What to do while eating my Cinnabon and swigging my Starbuck's? Watch you, that's what- and I gotta tell you, you don't look so good! That's what I really like about people watching - it makes me feel good about myself and my lot in life.
Certainly, people watching at some club where Playboy playmates hang out probably would provide better scenery. However, I'm 39 with 3 kids living in Michigan so that just ain't gonna happen for me unless my wife gets a whole lot more understanding real quick. So I'm stuck with people watching at more mundane places like airports. While it's true that I once saw Pat Boone in the Minneapolis airport, he isn't exactly the same as getting an eyeful of Miss January.
O'hare is still the first or second busiest airport in the country and you get a pretty good cross-section of folks: White, Black, short, tall, fat, skinny, fat, fat, bald, hairy, fat and the occasional fat person. You know those reports that The Government puts out that says we are all fat? Well, they're right. And God help you if you have to sit next to one of them on a plane. Don't get me wrong, I blend right in with my Cinnabon purchase but I don't overflow too much onto the poor sap who is lucky enough to sit next to me. Based on some of the people that I saw, though, apparently there comes a time when you just don't give a shit anymore what you look like. You make the leap from pants with a belt to pants with an elastic waistband. Shoes with laces are just too much work so you become Velcro Shoe Man. Tuck in my shirt (a t-shirt with hot fudge stains down the front)? Not likely. And so what do you do next? Apparently, you go to the airport. By the looks of it, the Fat People of America (FPA) meeting is there and is held at gate B6. Snacks provided! Yep, feeling pretty good about my only-eight-pounds-over-my-goal weight!
Have you ever been part of The Family (not the Mob family, just a regular one) traveling through the airport? How many kids? How many kids under the age of 4? If you were the 4 year-old, you probably didn't care what other people thought of you. If you were the parent, though, you wanted to crawl under the carpet or disguise yourself with some Groucho Marx glasses most of the time. Families in airports are probably pretty good birth control, actually. If you are thinking about having kids but aren't really sure, hang out at the airport and see what your reaction would be to little Johnny screaming his head off in public because his dad refused to pay $6.25 for a hot dog. Would you pay $19.95 for a dumb-ass stuffed animal from the dumb-ass gift shops? Are you capable of pushing a stroller with a crying kid, carrying a backpack full of SpongeBob coloring books, holding the hand of the older kid all while having your boarding pass and ID at the ready for the next security checkpoint (no doubt staffed by a big fat guy)? You'd better be able to suck it up without yelling at the spouse or just make the appointment with Dr. Snips-A-Lot now. I saw lots of families doing the summer vacation thing and I'm sure several children were put up for sale as soon as they returned home. I was smart enough to leave the heirs to my fortune home with their grandparents. Suckers!!
Of course, a lot of people that you see in airports are traveling for work. I used to do that. You get pretty efficient if you do it enough. You can tell who the pros are because they move fast. They grab their nifty carry-on bag (contents: Blackberry, laptop, files for meeting, two pens, mints, newspaper/magazine, rental car agreement and receipts for expense report) and they're maneuvering around the fat people like the airport is one big Frogger game. I don't watch those people too much because they all look the same. Being a corporate suck-ass, I can pick out another corporate suck-ass a mile away and unless he is working on his blog, I have no use for him. Go back to your cube and fill out your report, Dilbert!
On the rare occasion that the planets align and you happen to catch the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders on a press junket, you can sometimes spot a babe. From my exhaustive research, though, I've found that the problem with babes in airports is that you can't really tell if they are babes or not. She might be a babe on the outside but once she loads herself up with carry-ons, cell phones, purses and a great big sour look on her face, she turns into Ruth Buzzi. You could take your favorite clerk at Victoria's Secret in the mall ("My wife is about your size, would you try this on for me so I can see if it would fit her?") and load her down with all the accoutrements of travel and the next thing you know it's the Roto-Rooter guy! Only if she has a lackie/boyfriend/husband (who secretly despises her) carrying her crap does she look as good on The Inside as she does on The Outside. Certainly, you would still have to listen to her bitch at said lackie to hurry his ass up but, at that point, your feelings toward him turn from bitterness and resentment to sympathy and you really feel like hip-checking her into the nearest luggage carousel thingy.
We don't have enough time in the day to talk about airport security, but I'm pretty sure that I see about a dozen terrorists while taking a tour of Concourse B. There was one dressed up as an old lady whose osteoporosis had turned her into a walking upside-down "U". I saw another one who was disguised as a 4 year-old kid crying because he couldn't get a hot dog for $6.25. I think he was in cahoots with the 6 year-old kid who was obviously using his GameBoy to take over control of the incoming flights from the air traffic controllers. And then there was the fat guy but I think he was actually part of the crack security team checking my shoes for explosives. The main reason why I think they are terrorists is because THEY ALL HAD CELL PHONES! Good God, what did we ever do before we had to go 15 minutes without talking to someone on the phone!? You may find this surprising, but my cell phone conversations usually are more of an exercise in waiting for the person on the other end of the phone to shut his pie-hole so I can get onto something more important. Like writing blogs about people watching, for example.
Again, why do I like to people watch in the airport? Because it makes my miserable existence look pretty shiny! Despite what appears to be intolerance and my general dislike of people, I like watching them in their natural habitat. All I need is one of those things that looks like a gumball machine full of People Chow and a handful of quarters and I'm good to go for an afternoon of amusement.