Thursday, April 21, 2011

#18 -- The Airport Is Your God Now

"The airport is a really slow time machine that forces you to pass through an alternate Mirror, Mirror version of Nazi-occupied Britain before letting you reach your destination."

Flaming fucking hellshit in a deflating life-raft, I hate the airport. Every moment is an internal dialog. It's all questions. It's all criticisms, complaints, seething judgments, and escapist fantasy. How can this be so slow? How can this person be on their phone while disassembling their bag for security? Why is a soda cheaper than a water? Why does this guy smell like fruit that my girlfriend's cat puked up onto the radiator? Where the fuck is my plane? Why are all the people working at the airport so apathetic? Always? Why hasn't the air-travel "'business" imploded into itself with all these inefficiencies and infinite requests to tolerate their dickish practices? Seriously, 9/11 was almost 10 years ago, that's not an excuse. Get your shit back together. It's getting worse, they're just finding ways to gouge and tithe us until holograms put them out of business.

I'm not going to rail this wrecked locomotive down your throat. Everybody can recite awful travel stories or 5-hour delays in Newark where you realized just how durable the baby changing tables are thanks to an experimental move devised by a Rutgers waterpolo girl. Bruised tail-bone stories are commonplace. No, in short, your rage against the airport can be summed up quite plainly: The airport is your church now. 

It's where you go to have all control over your modern fate surgically removed.

It's abundantly obvious. You hate going to the airport. You have to go around the holidays because of your familial obligations. You don't really understand the things being shouted at you but you loaf your way through it because it's tradition, and you have to, and don't want to be hassled. You go through the ingrained motions whenever you can, which is when you get a reprieve from the internal fury backlog that I've mentioned above. But it goes beyond that. There's. . . the fear. You can't be a dick at the airport, just like you can't be a dick at church. And not 2011 church, I mean old-school pre-Martin Luther church. I mean Spanish Inquisition upside-down flesh-flaying shit. I mean excommunication, can't fight The Man, airport jail for saying "Paul Greengrass," God is always watching fear. It's one of the only places that white Americans are still afraid of other white Americans. They know they have to watch what they say or they might have their windpipe collapsed as a result of an air marshal's knee hose-kinking their trachea. 

The airport is a really slow time machine that forces you to pass through an alternate Mirror, Mirror-dimension version of Nazi-occupied Britain before letting you reach your destination. Papers, lads. Keep calm and carry on, for Queen and Country.

Watch for un-manned pieces of baggage! Also, watch for heathens, please! Constant vigilance -- of yourself and of that guy with that red hat! Verily, that guy. . . I do not trust. Ladies and gentlemen, sit and wait, you will be delivered to your desired destination, thank you. We cannot explain directly why things are the way they are, why you must suffer, the Lord speaks in riddles so that our souls might grow to accept waiting in the goddamn JFK E-terminal. The music is unusual, and you only hear it at church, played on a type of piano that you only hear in this place. You kind of hum along as you sit there, waiting for whatever, sort of recognizing it for a few bars, but you don't know why. The people around you have camped out in their pews, drawing their families close, their kids already wearing unfitting clothes that now are way too small since last year, so they continually fidget in their flip flops and hand-me-down parkas with colors from the incorrect decade. At the airport, like at church, you stare at people. I imagine going to Puritan church was like going to the mall back in the day, where you would walk in and try to figure who's daughter had been knocked up by an Indian brave or a Catholic, which I assume was like their version of a black guy. Except instead of judging silently, they'd throw big stones at her and then crush her to death under bigger stones like in The Crucible.

(A quick side note -- frequent fliers are the real Catholics of the airport. They're in, they're out, they mumble with begrudging respect in Latin and in acronyms (SFO, LAX, JFK, BUR), pop a Xanax at the exec-communion bar, then coast straight through the remaining hours, ready to do it again next week when they have to go out to Round Rock to meet with the guys at Dell. You WASPs wish you were that accustomed to the noxious mixture of obliged, guilt-soaked indifference.)

There's a ton of people-watching at airports. You keep to yourself, but you're very self-aware at church, so your mind is always going, assuring yourself that it's almost over, or that at least you look better than that guy with the $400 stroller who probably couldn't find a bathroom at his parents' house without his iPhone. Fuck the iPhone. It's a slap in the face to anybody that got made fun of for using a Game Boy on the school bus growing up. You just know that lady teased her younger brother for getting really good at Tetris back in 1989. Did you three-star every level in Angry Birds yet? Oh, on both iPhone and iPad, you say? Swallow a knife! 

People grip their smartphones like holy relics at the airport -- their only conduit to what they call reality, but what a Man of the Cloth would call "hedonistic pleasures of the butt." Which is why the airport bans these kinds of electronic devices on planes themselves. You're in God's house now, motherfucker -- your St. Francis of Assisi Skull is not allowed! If the airport is the church, the plane itself is your motherfucking confessional booth. You're stripped of everything, laid bare, and asked to be alone with your thoughts, and maybe your dad's old copy of The Winter of Our Discontent (for some reason?) that he bought in 1962 when he got delayed at Idlewild on his way to DC. The airport has the power to do that, take all that you have, and you can't fight it or you'll be labeled a heretic and put on the no-fly list or something. Who really knows? You don't. You don't want to know what happens to people that Skype'd during a flight from Boston-Logan to Detroit-Ft. Wayne. I'll tell you what happens to them. They end up in Detroit, a.k.a. The Capitol Wastes from Fallout 3. Except instead of roving gangs of Super Mutants, it's just the Detroit Tigers back from Kansas City for a home game.

The boredom at airports is crippling and baffling. You have entire weekends at home where people ask you, "so you seriously did nothing all weekend?" And you answer, "yeah," quite honestly. You loafed around from 9:32am, read part of The New York Times online, but mostly just stared at mail you didn't want to open because it's either junk or bills you already paid on their website. Then you watched SportsCenter, decided not to weed the back patio, and played Nintendo Wii until 4:30pm when the Jets' game came on. How is sitting for 20 minutes at an airport actually not 20 minutes, but instead 2 metric-fucktons of murderous dead space that has descended upon your soul like a inter-dimensional bogart with extra crustacean claws wriggling from its maw, swallowing all light, all hope, and all time? How, I ask? Because you aren't alone with your boredom in church/airport. You're at a party with no ride home. You're suffering together, and somehow, unlike normally, when co-misery makes everything better -- which is why you never crash a wake without a wingman -- you have to sit, and wait, until you finally get too awkward, and at last acknowledge the dude staring at you with such unabashed indifference. His eyes speak to you and they say, "hey, man, this sucks, doesn't it? But hey, what're you gonna do? We're in God's house."

Do we live in a society where idleness is synonymous with failure? If you aren't miserable, you're doing it wrong. If you're doing it right, you're actually forgetting something really important you'd better check every inbox, mailbox, bill-pay, account, and fact-sheet to make sure you haven't forgotten NAOW! I feel that constantly. I think it's been ingrained into me since before I could walk. At the airport, we're given time. But we are stripped of the means to be productive. What a paradox.

At the airport, there's no room for punk-rock. No room for irony. No room for humor. No room for the sly. No room for will, or even for humanity. We all serve the desire to get the flying fuck out of these skin-wrinkling circumstances and on to somewhere that isn't church. Anybody that thinks outside of the Order of Airport Logic is possessed by the devil, an interloper that fights the tenuous system that has promised to bind us together.

-- Doberman
(. . .has had enough of this)
on Twitter  |  @GhostLittle_WTF

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