In a Sufi fable, the lost Gates of airports live on in a murmuration of winged creatures, interfering with planes and occasionally manifesting as dense fog to obstruct flights.
It is very stressful to be checking through security holding a boarding pass with no Gate indicated on it. This stress is only surpassed when you disembark from one flight knowing you have mere minutes to make your connecting flight, and your boarding pass still has no Gate indicated on it. Killing time in airports often involves stalking the screens to find out what Gate you need to find, or obsessing over whether or not the Gate is going to be changed at the last minute, which is the malicious habit of airlines.
It is rumoured that someone once was staring at a screen at the exact moment that a Gate number was changed, but this has never been substantiated, and is best left as an urban myth. Airlines engage in Gate changing willy-nilly, with evil abandon. They consider it a victory when they deny hapless travellers access to boarding, based on being tardy, because the victim was stupidly standing in front of the wrong Gate wondering why the waiting room was so empty.
When I have time to kill I sometimes stand beneath the screen, watching for panicked souls. They are easy to spot. They are usually sweaty, and flustered, and always clutching a useless boarding pass. “What airline, what flight?” I ask brightly. This is being a good Samaritan because the panicked person is in too much of a tizzy to find the details of their own flight.
I used to love flying back in the olden days, when I was young(er). I thought the little TV dinners covered in tinfoil were exotic. They were free, as were lots of other things.
Airport food is as nectar to the Gods, in terms of cost. It costs you an arm and a leg, and the Gods then line their bank accounts with your arms and legs. It is a cruel dismemberment of your wallet and your good sense.
Bring your own food and never ever drink any alcohol in the airport bar. Don’t do as I have done and in a ravenous fury spend ten dollars for a spoon sized container of yogurt topped with half a berry and one peanut. If you require alcohol to fuel your courage to board the plane, bring a flask. The experience of paying fifteen dollars for a glass of inferior wine in an airport bar will depress you. This will cause you to buy at least two more glasses of the plunk, and hate yourself for being weak. And now poor.
Never ever open and eat an egg salad sandwich on the plane.
When the desire to drink wine becomes too great, practice walking and especially running the wrong way on the Travelator. When you perfect your technique you will experience seconds of weightlessness, as occurs in reduced gravity aircraft. The latter is very expensive and only for rich people. The former is free and is for everyone. Try it. The added cardio of the obstacle course style of jumping and dodging out of the way of the outraged people who are travelling on the Travelator in the right direction is also a lot of fun, and builds muscle strength.
If, like me, you love airports but hate flying, stay tuned for my next installment of Killing Time in Airports, when I explore such topics as ‘Timing Your Ativan Correctly’, and ‘Do Not Take Down The Oxygen Mask Just In Case’.
One night before a flight I dreamed I had a three legged puppy named Trouble. Airport hours are as dog years. It can feel like an eternity in there.
Peace and Love.