Something made me laugh at the airport last week. That rarely happens.
It's not that I don't enjoy flying. I mean, who doesn't like long walks in harshly lit, pedestrian-packed corridors, with blaring beeps and intrusive announcements peppering the stale air? And who among us doesn't enjoy tiptoeing through security, exposing ourselves to the world? Waiting on the other side, if we're really lucky, is a lovely pat-down performed by a person of the same sex. It's all so wonderful.
Still, I had to chuckle when I caught a glimpse of a fellow human clearly enjoying his job as a parking lot attendant. He was dancing while he directed traffic at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. I mean, this guy was popping and spinning like Michael Jackson, sending cars up one aisle and down the next to their appointed spaces. He even got down on the cement and did a break-dance spin. A conductor couldn't have orchestrated something this beautifully. Everyone was impressed.
The episode got me thinking about things that are good about airports. Things that are unique about flying, that you may not fully appreciate. Consider these: Airport coffee shops. Have you noticed? They're getting more comfortable. Plump leather chairs, free wireless and some coffee shops are even connected to bookstores so you can have a cultural moment before the cattle call. Airport pubs. The drinks may be overpriced, but it's almost certain the town drunk won't be seated next to you. In fact, the chances of having a stimulating conversation are much better here than in the average watering hole. "Where have you traveled lately?" ... "I've been to London to visit the Queen." Airport art. Where else can you stand still and have art come to you? Some of the best paintings are on walls next to moving walkways. Of course, there's always the chance that your airport has used the blank canvas to bombard you with ads for foot creams and credit cards. Airport chapels. I once had five hours to spend in an airport on a Sunday. I found the chapel to be calming and curious. On the entryway table were two Bibles, a Koran and three Watchtower magazines. There was a prayer rug in the corner, but no one used it. In fact, I had the little chapel all to myself -- like a deserted island in a sea of humanity. Airport shopping. You were probably wondering when I'd get around to this. I will not mention duty-free shops here because I learned on Seinfeld that they're actually a rip-off. The shops I do like offer books you can buy, read and return to any airport for half your money back. I also like sports clothing stores where team T-shirts are 50 percent off. Airport music. I don't mean the elevator music that's piped into terminals to add to the noise and confusion. Some of the more innovative airports -- like Minneapolis/St. Paul International -- have piano and harp players set up in strategic spots to soothe frayed nerves. Sofas and chairs invite weary passengers to sit a spell before submitting to their full body scan in security.
What are your favorite local adventures? Drop me a line, and I'll share them with readers. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.ginnyprior.com.