I'm in the sf airport, sitting through the three-plus hour wait for my flight to Vancouver. I managed to sleep deeply door-to-door on the two-and-a-half-hour bus ride to the airport, except the couple of times I woke myself up snorting in my sleep. I needed this vacation.
Did the automated computer check-in, the assembly-line security check, and shlepped to the gate. It was quiet for all of two minutes, and then a toddler and a cellphone drone appeared simultaneously and began to make unpleasant noises. No problem, I thought, as I got my headphones and iPod out. Wrong.
Looks like I have a dead iPod for the second time in two months. Grrrr. And what a time to die. I have an eight hour trip, and I need to shut out all those petty annoyances, someone else's children behaving badly, idiots who haven't yet figured out that we don't want to overhear their phone conversations, a million little sound bytes that grind away at cranky travelers like me and make us much, much crankier.
I plugged the headphones into my laptop, but I knew it would never last if I didn't find a place to plug in. Picking up my bags I started to wander the terminal. Plywood boards blocked off an area, and cheerful signs on them announced that this would soon be a sushi restaurant, and this would be Peet's Coffee, and this would be a chi-chi bistro. But not now. Now it was just plywood. Let them eat plywood.
I poked my head into a deserted shoeshine booth, now closed for the evening. A small extension cord dribbled along one wall. I plugged in, and yup, we had power. I climbed into the weird customer chairs that put me several feet off the ground and worked away with headphones blocking out the world around me.
Looked up to see a sixtyish man removing his loafers. He wasn't wearing sox. His lips were moving. Seems he wanted me to shine his shoes.
Now I'm sitting here, high in my strange perch in the shoeshine nook, typing away. The harshly fluorescent lighting is like something out of an interrogation room. I've just noticed a sign saying, 'Shoe Shine, $5. Spit Shine, $7." I guess they charge $2 for spit around here. This little roomlet is an island of shabbiness in the slick, modern terminal. There is a tall wooden box, obviously homemade and painted blue with a cheap hardware store lock on it. Its edges are worn and chewed up, and there are scrapes and stains on the top. The wall is stained with splashes of shoe polish, and a piece of blue stripe running at eye level along the wall is torn off, revealing brown dried glue that once held it in place. The seats are upholstered in a textured gray vinyl that looks like something last manufactured in the 1930s. Despite efforts to the contrary, some evidence of humanity lingers here.
The world passes by on the carpeted walkway in front of and below me, on their way to who-knows-where. No one is coming near me with their germs or noise or cel phone soliloquies or shrill two-year-olds. Occasionally someone happens to glance in my diretion, but they're hurrying somewhere, and this is not on their itinerary.
Time to descend into the milling humanity once again. More news as it happens.