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Rob Jenkinson's Letters from America #16
by Rob Jenkinson
2007-01-21 10:51:44
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Dear readers,

My life is one big airport.

I’m not kidding. As I write, I am awaiting what will be the second flight of 2007. Last year, I managed to clock up an insane 28 flights. I now know American airport procedures like the back of my hand.

Turn up, touch the screen, put your credit card in, click check bags, print boarding pass, take bags to the man by the conveyer belt, proceed to security, show boarding pass, spend 10 minutes taking shoes, belt and watch off, take laptop out of hand luggage (and video camera if I have it), walk through the metal detector, show boarding pass again, wait for hand luggage and then put it all back on or in the bag, walk to gate and wait.

28 flights, readers, it’s fucking insane. I reckon I could perform the safety procedure word for word, if I actually listened to them. I actually did think I was going to go mad a few weeks ago on a flight from Detroit to New York. I sat down at the gate and seriously considered crying hysterically just for something to do.

See, as you know, there’s only so much you can do at an airport, especially if you’re traveling on business as that rules out getting drunk, plus not all American airports have bars. However, I have my routine down to a tee. First, I go into Hudson News and look at pictures of Christina Aguilera or Fergie or whoever in their underwear in FHM or whichever magazine has the most attractive front cover. I then go and see if there’s anywhere to get a coffee (only if I’m on per diem) I then sit down and play on my laptop (like I’m doing right now).

When I get bored of that, I either read a book or people watch. Now, people-watching in airports never gets boring, but I have managed to name certain types of people who always seem to be present there.

First up is the businessman. These guys keep themselves to themselves for the most part because they do a lot of traveling. The businessman is easy to spot as he’ll be wearing trousers and a suit jacket and ALWAYS has carry-on luggage, which can be dragged, despite the fact it’s only 30x30cms. I suppose I fall into their category, but I don’t fly first class and I don’t get angry when the flight’s delayed. Seriously, when something wrong happens with the flight, they freak out and start huffing and puffing instantly sending themselves to a corner of my imagination for extensive scalpel torture.

Next up is your college student on their way to or from home. Not so easy to spot as I could easily fall into their category as I’m dressed casually. Obviously, I’m a good few years older than them, but not in my mind; I like to think I’m still 21…yeah, shut up!

There are in-your-face college students who wear their school’s t-shirts, hoodies or what have you all over their bodies. The men will be wearing a hoody, ill-fitting jeans, his body will be massive and have huge muscles. If he’s not wearing a college hoody, he’ll have the school’s baseball cap on, which will invariably be worn backwards and lowered down to his eyebrows. Why American men think this looks good, I’ll never be able to tell you.

College girls will be different. You’d think that from shows like Dawson’s Creek, The OC or Buffy The Vampire Slayer that they’d be dressed in tight fitting jeans and a vest top of some description. Ordinarily you’d be right, but when in an airport, despite the length of the flight, they’ll be dressed for bed. I don’t know why they think this is acceptable, but it’s hilarious. They’ll be there in their pajamas and hair all over the place and then 45 minutes later, they’re at their destination and it is midday. I think they believe they look hot, but they actually look like ridiculous skanks.

Other types of people that are guaranteed are: A couple with a baby or toddler, an old granny on her own being pushed in a wheelchair by airport staff, the hip-hop gang (the people who dress like they’ve just stepped out of the ghetto and are traveling to another city for a ghetto convention. A member of the hip-hop gang is guaranteed to be wearing sunglasses inside, my number one pet hate) and middle-aged parents who are the opposite of the college students as they look like they're on their way to visit their kid who’s on campus.

Regular readers will realize that I have a superiority complex and will already know that I sneer down at all of them and not realize that I’m being judged by everyone of them, just as I am them.

A few more things to point out about airports and then I’ll let you go, honest, I’m not going to do those typical stand-up routines about the pretzels that the airline hand out and the struggle you have with putting your hand luggage in the overhead compartment or anything.

But these things two things confuse me:

1. If I were on a plane that was transporting a load of supermodels, I would have the only fat ugly man on the plane sit next to me. Now, I know I’m married and shouldn’t want good-looking girls to sit next to me and I know I just spent half-an-hour ranting about how they always wear pajamas for flights. Nonetheless, they’re much more desirable to have sat next to you than what I always end up with. They always get their laptops out and shove their elbows in my face as well. So yes, I’d prefer the dainty girl.

2. What the fuck do people go up to the gate desk for? What are they asking? I’ve done it once and that was so that my colleague and I could change seats so we’d be sat next to each other. They can’t all be asking for that as most are on their own, also, if they’re asking for upgrades then they’re stupid. No one gets upgraded without paying extra in America. If they’re asking what time the flight leaves, then they’re even more stupid, the information is on the screen. WHAT ARE THEY ASKING?! It drives me crazy.

Right, I’m being called. Just enough time to save this and shut down before they call my boarding group. I’m never one or two, I’m always the last to board.

Right readers, all doors have been sealed, please turn all electrical devices to the off position and stow them away for take-off. Have a safe flight.

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Asa2007-01-21 13:47:32
I hope you aren't in an airport for your anniversary this week.

Here's an early congrats message to you and M.

Rob2007-01-22 04:52:47
Thank you very much Mr. B.

Sadly we will be apart the Wednesday, but we're celebrating on Friday.

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