tales from an airport

Have you ever walked around and actually paid attention to what people are saying around you? Normally, I pay no attention whatsoever. I walk around in a sound proof silence bubble. Like that bubble boy movie, only hopefully not as annoying. But sometimes, something tears a hole in my protective silence barrier.

Except last night, when I was in the airport, waiting for my flight. I was minding my own business, wondering just how much the flight would be delayed, looking at the clock trying to calculate if it was late enough to take the Xanax or if I would get loopy too early and end up wandering onto a flight to Antarctica. (Actually, from the terminal I was in, I really could have only ended up in Portland or maybe Yakima, both of which have good wine, so I shouldn’t have been so worried.)

I didn’t really notice the guy who walked up near me to use the airport phone. It was one of those phones that you can use to talk to someone inside the airport somewhere, although I’m not exactly sure where or why but sometimes you hear someone being paged to use one. Anyway, he picked up the phone and got whoever it is who was stuck answering that day.

“Yes, I’m at gate 15. There’s a trash can here that smells. It’s not really full or anything and it doesn’t smell overpowering, but it smells a little. And I’m sitting kind of near it. So if you could just have someone come out to gate 15 and take care of that… Gate 15. Thanks.”

And he hung up and walked away.

Now, it never crossed my mind that the airport operator was here for flyers’ needs for no-smell zones, but apparently, this is a service the airport offers. In this guy’s very imaginative secret world.

Maybe this airport just brings out the odd in people. It’s the same airport that is adamantly against shoes on top of laptops. And when I went through security last night, someone really didn’t like my carry on suitcase. I’m not sure what the screeners didn’t like about it, but they sent it through twice. The second time, they stared at it for a really long time. I thought maybe they were confused at the four bottles of tequila stuffed inside. (You have no idea the variety and extremely low prices offered in California liquor stores compared to Washington ones. I was in tequila heaven and only wished I’d brought a larger suitcase so I could bring back more bottles than only four.)

Earlier in the day, as I stuffed and stuffed and tried to zip and tried again, and repacked another way, and moved the avocados to my backpack (obviously, I have to bring avocados back from California) and FINALLY got everything zipped, I really hoped that the airport screeners weren’t going to open my suitcase.

I called over to the guys frowning at my bag from the x-ray machine. “It’s tequila”.

“Oh, it’s not the tequila we’re worried about.”

Um, OK. (What then?)

He brought my bag over to a table, unzipped it (dammit) and then did the thing where he wiped it down with a cloth and then analyzed the cloth in a big machine. I guess everything checked out OK.

He put my suitcase on another table, all my clothes and tequila spilling out everywhere.

“I’ll let you pack this back up.”

And he walked away. Wonderful.

I finally got everything squashed back in and zipped, and let me tell you, I was very graceful with the sitting on the corners, and using my feet to hold one side down, but in the end, it was all in there. And everything else ran smoothly, other than the flight delay and the smelly trash guy. I even managed to get on the right plane, despite the Xanax.

When I got off the plane, I was all disoriented and loopy from the drugs and the wine and the napping and I didn’t see P. and I fumbled around for my phone and called him and he seemed to not be very helpful, saying “where are you?” “No, I’m here. I don’t see you though.” And I was thinking I was going to have to wander aimlessly and couldn’t I just stand in this one place and he could come find me because my bag of avocados was getting really heavy and plus the tequila bag wasn’t too light either.

And then he stepped out from behind the post he’d been hiding behind the entire time. He just likes to mess with me when I’m in the Xanax-induced stupor. But he carried both bags, so I forgave him. And as far as I know, he didn’t call anyone to complain about the smelly trash while he was waiting for my plane.

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