Waiting at the airport is a wonderful feeling. Anything that isn’t frantically trying to navigate gates, negotiate baggage, or interpret TSA’s security screening instructions is nice when you’re at an airport. The part where you just find a seat, people-watch, and wait to be swept away in a giant flying machine is enjoyable.
Flying freaks me out. Not because I’m afraid the plane will crash or anything like that…I just don’t trust myself to be on time. With public transit there’s always another metro just ten or thirty minutes away, with Craigslist riders there is a sympathetic human component. Even when you buy tickets for buses and trains and have to be on time, at least there’s less financial risk. Plane tickets are expensive, and TSA is tired of everybody being tired at them, so airports are one of those places that should be overwhelming human (what could be more exciting and socially inspiring than travel!) but instead comes out feeling kind of sterile and icky. Like a hospital. Train stations still have some personality, and there’s always a weird camaraderie with people on buses because we’re all too broke or strange to get on airplanes.
It also bugs me how fast airplanes go and how much time you spend waiting for them. My flight confirmations always tell me to get to the airport “two hours” ahead of my boarding time. Then of course you have to plan time for public transit mishaps and delays (today the transit police had to do a full sweep of my MAX car, for whatever reason.) Long story short, I’m here an hour before boarding which is half an hour before take off, so the time between now and the start of the flight is longer than the length of my flight down to San Jose! How does that make sense? I like the physical act of traveling, of being in motion…
I feel like more people would like traveling if they felt themselves going and pushing forward instead of just waiting for hours on end in various airport activities until they could sequester themselves in a metal tube that flies up to the sky where everything looks monotonously the same and the land goes by so slowly. Put me in a car, where I can see amber fields turn yellow and into dust as I head through the desert. Let me watch the greenery wean away, the evergreen trees die out like a slow extinction as I roll toward California. Early humans evolved to be able to walk twelve miles a day. I feel like 70-80 mph is as fast as this hairless monkey should ever need to go.
Still, there is a charming convenience to flying, and it feels like a tremendous luxury…every once in a while.