Today was a travel day. I love traveling. I love watching people in airports. I love the weird interpersonal situations that happen when way too many people are crammed in way too small seats way too close together. For whatever reason, today was a day of really happy, positive, kinda weird stories.
The Girl Band
One TSA line over is a girl. She’s wearing a top hat with a huge fake orange flower and a wide fabric band. She has on shiny maroon Doc Martins, and I marvel at how small her ankles are in those boots. No one has small ankles in Doc Martins, but she has tiny feet too, so maybe that’s the reason. She’s a slender girl who looks like a teenager to my aging eyes, so she’s probably twenty-five. She has close cropped hair, beautiful posture and everything about her is alive. She has a guitar case slung over her shoulder and a banjo case at her feet. I wonder how she’s going to get them both on a plane. Once, I sat next to a man who bought a seat for his guitar, so maybe she’s doing that.
Then I notice her friends. There are three girls, not just one, and they all have that same alive, short-hair, good posture look. She isn’t a musician, they are a band, and just the three of them are traveling. This means they probably are in their twenties, and not the teenagers I originally thought. The tallest one in the blue coat is comparing her jacket to her friend’s jacket and asking the hatted one, “It’s blue, right?”
The friend says, “It’s not blue.” The hatted one agrees.
Suddenly, the not-blue jacketed one notices me watching their scene and she shouts across at me, “What color is this?”
I am delighted to be included in this group and I shout back, “Not blue.”
She tilts her head, “Not blue? Then what color is it?”
“Charcoal.” I call back.
“Charcoal!” The hatted one says, and they are back in their own world. I try to engage them with the start of a question about the color of my own orange-red jacket, but I am forgotten. For a moment I wish I’d worn my own not-blue jacket. Maybe we would have talked longer, and I could have asked my own questions. Where are you going? How will you get a banjo and a guitar on the plane? Did you make that hat? What’s the name of your band.
Alas, they are on to comparing the color of their pants. Maroon?
Cash on the Plane
“Only credit cards. Credit cards only.” The flight attendant repeats row after row. Obediently the passengers put away their bills and hand over plastic. The routine is interrupted by the man in the middle seat in front of me. I can see him through the break between the seats, and his long hair and music mixing app on his computer make it obvious he is no traditional airline commuter. He challenges the flight attendant.
“What if I pay you double the price, can I pay cash?”
The exhausted, overworked, low-budget airline attendant says, “No. Credit only.”
The music mixer decides to perform. He raises his voice, “Will anyone, anyone in this airplane pay for my snack, and I will pay you in cash.”
I roll my eyes at his bravado, and am shocked to hear a female voice say, “I will.”
Some lady two rows in front of me offers to pay. There is a complicated back and forth with her snack mix, her gin and tonic, his craft beer – his word – and then his gin and tonic, in addition to the craft beer. Snacks are passed out. Drinks are handed out, handed back, and then handed out again in different formation. The guy next to the music mixer asks several times, “I’d like a water when you get a chance.” The music mixer hands his cash to the woman, and it’s too much money.
He insists, “As a thank you for your purchase.”
The attendant moves on, after giving the guy his water, and the water man starts quizzing the music mixer about his work: “Have you ever heard of Glenn Frey?” The music mixer starts starts his beer – he doesn’t like it, must not be crafty enough – and says that he has never heard of Glenn Frey. So, the water guy starts talking the lyrics of Hotel California and I wonder if the cash the music mixer gave the lady is real, or if somehow the music mixer is also a counterfeiter. I also wonder if the music mixer really doesn’t know Glenn Frey or is just too cool to admit that he loves Hotel California.
I’m sitting in the terminal waiting to start a conference call. Nestled back in molded airport chairs under the escalator I hear it before I see it. The sound of a plane taking off. No, the sound a person makes when sounding like a plane taking off. Into my vision bursts a paunchy dad with a child bigger than an infant but smaller than a toddler in his arms. He’s running down the terminal holding his child in the air making airplane noises and they are both laughing and totally unaware that it is inappropriate for grown men to run in an airplane terminal making airplane noises. Unbeknownst to them, they also make a third person happy, me, who loves inappropriate parental/child joy.
Safety Conscious Beggar
The homeless man mutters at every person who passes in front of him. It’s snowing and he’s standing underneath the overhang of the building where the pavement is just wet. He shakes his cup at everyone, and no one give him attention or money. I hear him when I’ve already passed.
“Be careful. It’s slick.”
I wish it wasn’t snowing. I would have given him a dollar, but he’s right, it’s slick, so I don’t stop.