Written at Plantar International Airport
I like segues. If not for segues, there would be no legitimate way to begin this column by stating that its topic is the portcullis, as in, "STOP TOUCHING YOUR PORTCULLIS! WE HAVE GUESTS!" And there would certainly be no excuse for changing my mind, mid-sentence, and stating that the topic of this column is actually waiting in airports.
I'm waiting at the airport right now. You know the one. It features planes. It has not escaped my notice that this airport looks an awful lot like the last airport, and the one before that, and the one before that. Those featured planes, too. If you ask airport officials such as TSA personnel or the A&W guy*, they will claim those were technically "other" airports, but I was not born yesterday. I know highly suspicious when I see it.
My story actually begins yesterday morning, when, in the bloom of my youth, I attempted - in an act of brazen roguery - to leave Aarkvard University for a week of spring break. It turns out this sort of renegade behavior is strictly verboten**, inasmuch as it directly violates the Aarkvard Code of Conduct, Article XII, Aisle 6 (International Foods), stating "Try And Leave Ha Ha Ha," but in Latin.*** Discipline must be administered accordingly.
Fortunately, America's airports offer many fine diversions, such as single sticks of "Juicy Fruit"-variety chewing gum for $18.99 (plus tax), not to mention such comestible delicacies as Bourbon Chicken, available in two varieties, Labrador and Surprise. Also, airports offer extensive opportunities for observation. It is said that Georges Rémi, Belgian creator of the Tintin stories, once remarked that the entire world on a reduced scale could be found at an airport, though this was later disproved following the discovery that Rémi had actually been speaking in Belgian. At this point his remarks were translated accurately.****
Which is to say, lest you think for a moment that my weekend might have blunted my superior powers of observation, let me assure you that I have formulated the following set of laws applicable to the airport experience, the likes of which only the shrewdest of observers could devise:
1. None of the featured planes are carrying you.
2. Unless you wish to go to Columbus, Ohio.
I'm not kidding about this last part. I believe I may state without fear of having to do math that I have been waiting to go to Portland for 10,000,000,000,000,000 hours, without so much as reassurance from the loudspeaker folk that there is in fact a "Portland". Meanwhile, across the way is another of these "delayed flights" (defined as "flights whose infant pre-boarders are now Rite-Aid pamphlet poster boys for Prostate Concerns, probably named Earl") (the poster boys are probably named Earl, that is) (not the Prostate Concerns) (the Prostate Concerns are probably named Ralph), bound for Columbus, Ohio. This flight to Columbus, Ohio, is mentioned every two seconds, lest we should forget that a) there is a delayed flight to Columbus, Ohio and b) Columbus is in Ohio. The airline is dealing with this by giving the passengers lots of stuff. So far - at least, as I understood it up to my last bourbon chicken-induced seizure - each passenger had received a complimentary ticket anywhere in the United States of America; a complimentary airline blanket, pillow, toothbrush, and rectal thermometer (approved for in-flight use), a subscription to Marie Claire*****, a Jacuzzi, and a Large Fries. Whereas "Portland" may or may not exist, and until this issue is resolved one way or the other, I may not leave.
Something else which has not escaped my notice, in the meantime, is the fact that Plantar International Airport features precisely two (or, for you mathematician types, "approximately three") terminals. These terminals go by the respective names of Terminal "A" and Terminal "C". This would appear to be highly suspicious.
UPDATE: Each of the Columbus passengers has now received the Hope Diamond.
And I haven't even told you yet of my experience with the airport ATM. Now let me say right off the bat, on account of a deep respect combined with the wish not to receive any angry letters from ATMs, that I have a LOT of respect for ATMs in airports. Okay? I know how many people you must deal with each day. I know how many zonky-ass requests you must receive. But this is NO EXCUSE to eat my ATM card. Eating my ATM card is BAD. As a defenseless customer, I cannot go into our transactions but with the puppy-like faith that my card will actually emerge again. Also, there is no need to be hostile. Perhaps you (you know who you are) would care to review this actual transcript of our transaction:
ATM SCREEN: SELECT YOUR AMOUNT
ATM SCREEN: ERROR ERROR ERROR
(There is no sign of my card.)
ATM SCREEN: SELECT YOUR AMOUNT
ATM SCREEN: BWA HA HA
SELECT YOUR AMOUNT
ME: (becoming upset) $30.00
ATM SCREEN: I EAT YOUR FACE
ME: (to the passing information desk woman) Ma'am, I told the ATM I wanted thirty dollars and it ate my card.
WOMAN: Oh yeah. You have to ask it for forty.
WOMAN: Right. Or twenty.
ME: But not thirty?
ME: Even though thirty is between twenty and forty?
WOMAN: I EAT YOUR FACE
Fortunately, all ends well. I am able to retrieve my card, and the information desk woman does not actually eat my face, although given airport fare, I wouldn't blame her if she tried.
UPDATE: Each of the Columbus passengers has now been anointed for sainthood, to be conferred "at their convenience". They are told to see the Customer Service desk for details.
I'd complain some more about how I'll never, ever, ever get out of Plantar International, but as fate would have it, it's a week later now and I need to be here anyway. Fate is, as ever, on my side.
***"In Flotsam Est Ha Ha Ha".
****"I could really go for some Bourbon Chicken."
*****This month's feature: "Is YOUR Vagina Checking Your E-mail BEHIND YOUR BACK???!!!"
©2008, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending