As I write this, the first Chilean miner has emerged from his rock coffin of three months to the cheers of those working around the clock to free him, a grateful son and wife happy to see their dad/husband alive again when all hope was thought lost, and a large group of Chileans gathered at their embassy in Washington as the world rallies around 33 men surviving unbelievable circumstances in one of the world’s most dangerous jobs.
Given the cultural ubiquity of this event and the warm feelings sent by onlookers from all over the world to this incredible group of men, who, in the normal course of doing their jobs, were thrust into the worldwide spotlight due to what could have been a grave tragedy that turned into a rallying point and tale of perseverance for a downtrodden global populace, I think it important to discuss what really matters – annoying people at the airport.
If you remember this time last year, you’ll remember that I was off in beautiful Maui basking in the newlywed glow sitting on a beach, sipping cocktails, and complaining about Bret Saberhagen to a confused Lady E (long story).
Anyway, one year has passed, and I am a huge proponent of marriage. Everyone always says things are “different” when you’re married, and I agree. They’re way better. So to celebrate this first awesome year, Lady E and I decided to take a trip to New York since, well, since New York is probably only the greatest fucking city on earth and I’d never spent more than two hours there.
Awesome trip, and despite all the common complaints about New Yorkers every Midwestern chump blithely spews out after an overwhelming visit to the Big Apple, I found New Yorkers to be delightful. That isn’t to say I loved everyone I met there, except that, yeah, I pretty much loved everyone I met there. It was only in the airport that I was reminded of one particular group of people that just irritate the piss out of me. The baggage claim vultures.
And while this sounds like hacky shit from some awful stand-up comic wearing an oversized teal sport coat from a 1992 episode of HBO’s “One Night Stand,” I cannot fathom the level of impatience and paranoia a person must possess to feel the need to crowd around the little opening where the bags emerge from on the baggage claim carousel. They look like blind baby birds desperate for some regurgitated worm guts spit into their gullet as they desperately crane their necks peering at each new bag that materializes out of the carousel’s conveyer belt birth canal.
In total, the entire journey of a bag all the way around the track at the claim is probably about 45 seconds, clearly a duration too excruciating for the simple minds of delusional travelers who can’t even recognize their own bags.
And that’s the other thing – people turn into that guy from Memento when claiming luggage. I watched one guy in LaGuardia examine every fucking bag that came out to see if it was his. Size and color (the two most immediate distinguishing factors of a piece of luggage) were irrelevant to this gentleman as he examined each claim check looking for his name. What is it about traveling that turns otherwise normal people into fucking Looney Tunes? They crowd around the gate waiting to get on the plane like they’re catching a rush hour bus. They gawk at the hole in wall looking for their luggage like they’re trying to be the first middle school training bra-wearer to get a glimpse of Justin Bieber. They can’t even recognize their own luggage even though they probably stared at it for an hour straight while packing it.
Lady E saw a bag the same brand as mine and comparable size. She asked if it was mine. I looked at it a bit and said, “Nah. Same brand, but the wheels are wrong.” Simple as that. Lady E recognizes her bags without any difficulty. WHY IS THIS SO FUCKING DIFFICULT? And why are you people allowed to breed? When at the playground, do you people make it all the way back to the minivan and realize, “Hey, this kid isn’t mine. My kid’s a boy.”
If you want to see the worst of this behavior in action, head to Houston’s Intercontinental Airport (a city that takes the cake in several “worst” categories). Having lived there for a year and having done a fair amount of traveling, I can safely say there are no more zealous baggage claim vultures than there are in Houston. People actually crowd each other to be nearest the claim canal like they’re in a goddamn news story about unwieldy parents at a Black Friday Toys R Us sale.
This is why I almost never check a bag. This trip was different since we planned on shopping while in Manhattan, so I was reminded of this traveler subspecies after having avoided it for the better part of a decade. What’s funny is that while my blood boils for these idiots, they’re juxtaposed against my favorite group to gaze at – impossibly bored adolescents resenting the fact they were ever born.
Not to sound like a miserable old bastard, but kids today have entertainment that none of us ever knew or could have even dreamed of. Virtually every song, television show, movie, and video game fits comfortably in the palm of your hand on one device, and kids still look like they’re dying of Lupus 90% of the time. I think it just proves that being a kid is generally boring as shit. Drew Magary from Deadspin touched on this in a recent article, and to paraphrase him, when you’re a kid, you’re uninformed about the world, you have no sense of context, you have endless amounts of free time so you never appreciate it, time drags on forever, the entertainment geared toward you is generally terrible, and you can’t even drink. Technology will continue to advance, but nothing will cure the colon-splintering tedium of childhood. And I even loved being a kid, but you couldn’t pay me enough to ever do it again.
As for you adults out there, please do everyone a favor and try to act like a functioning member of society and just relax at the baggage claim. Take a minute to remember what it looks like. Put a fucking Hello Kitty sticker on it, if that helps. And as you wait down the track like a patient, fully operative adult (no matter how strong the golden retriever-like impulse to crowd the opening is) take heart in knowing that those 45 seconds aren’t nearly as long for you as they are for that poor, giant-footed, awkward, resentful sack of unfathomable boredom over there with the PSP.
Your bag is coming, I promise.
13 Oct 2010 E Dagger