Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Last week, I was on an eight hour date with the LA airport - courtesy of flight delays, mechanical issues, and the usual general incompetence that can make air travel so thrilling.
I’m actually not one of those stressed out travelers or haters of airports. (Maybe because I’ve had relatively few airline horror stories -- although the Vegas 06 Brittany Birthday Parade incident will live in infamy.) In fact, the day at LAX wasn’t so bad. Once I accepted that I was trapped and powerless, I sort of enjoyed myself. And so, in no particular order, here is my Love You, LAX list.
1) You are the best people-watching venue in the city
When my eyes weren't glazed over from too much iPhone tetris, they were feasting on an endless sloppy human spectacle. I was tempted to bust out the serious camera for creeper pictures, but realized that would probably land me in a basement airport security room.
I particularly love to notice people’s airport outfits. There are some who are so out there with overprepared comfort – in the special stretchy pants (guilty) and shamelessly walking around “wearing” a neck pillow (not guilty). Then there are the people who look probably better in airports than they do in real life, perhaps out of some outdated notion that one must put on their finest to travel. It’s sort of funny-sad though, it’s always the women in sky-high heels and a-little-too-sexy skirts who end up having to run from one terminal to another. The airport is a cruel god.
Plus, hours of uninterrupted people watching led to all sorts of productive lines of thinking. Why do guys think it’s socially acceptable to walk out of a rest room still zipping up their fly? Was it a conscious choice for every member of this family to wear one article of camo clothing from baby to Dad? And, finally, countless rounds of a more depressing version of Would You Rather. For example, would you rather travel as that single mom with a baby and a really mean 2 year old OR the old lady w/ oxygen tank and wheel chair?
2) You are an awesome source of awkward stranger interactions
I’ll admit that I’m not the friendliest person. I do not strike up conversations with cab drivers, the person in front of me at the grocery store, or whoever’s sitting next to me in coach. But I do appreciate the semi-absurd conversations with strangers that happen in an airport. Like harmlessly sleazy middle aged guys who use the flight delay to try to strike up a conversation on the pros and cons of propeller planes. Or, my favorite, the vaguely eastern religion con artist outside the international terminal. He threw every sales scam in the book: disarming the target with an innocent request: “do you speak english?” flattery: “you look like a movie star” and finally subconscious mind trickery: he puts the book in my hand and says “this is a gift, we’re just asking for a small donation.”
3) You remind me of when I put California on a pedestal
LAX is actually a sort of nostalgic place for me. Every summer my family trekked from Boston to Cali on a condensed tour of relative visiting. We always flew into LAX. I always unsuccessfully begged to go to the Jetson-style Encounters restaurant in the center of the loop. And, like so many people raised on the East Coast, at that first glimpse of palm trees and those weird light up things outside the airport I was filled with an embarrassingly earnest belief that I would lead a charmed life if only I lived in California.
Ha. Now I know better. Until next time, LAX.