30 July 2013

At the Crossroads in Philadelphia

We arrived in Philly as close to on-time as the airlines seem to be these days, which meant that we would make our connecting flight.  By the time we found the gate for the next leg of the trip, it was pouring outside, thunder cracking, lightning flashing.  We wandered for a while, shouldering the burden of the carry-on traveler, and eventually returned to the gate with bellies full and bladders emptied.  That’s when we noticed him:  Satan incarnate.  You’re probably not surprised that Satan can be found in an airport, maybe especially the Philly airport, since most of the folk who pass for airport workers are known to be his minions.  And so, there he was, that little devil:  about three foot four, forty-two pounds, stained khaki pants and swinging an orange sweatshirt over his head.  I’d guess the form he took was about three years old.

He was screaming at a girl a bit older than him, trying to hit her with the sweatshirt that he lassoed awfully close to other travelers.  The zipper pull was flying all too close to passenger eyes, but who was I to say anything?  And that scream:  shrill enough to make you wish a fingernail on a chalkboard would drown it out.  Meanwhile, she was tossing Cheetos at him, the orange crumbs on the carpet proof of an ongoing feud.

Every now and again a frumpy middle-aged woman grabbed his arm and spoke to him in a menacing whisper, although I couldn’t hear the words she said.  I could read her body language like a Psych 101 textbook.  I watched for a while, pretending to be vacantly staring into space, afraid of catching his eye and therefore his wrath, but unable to look away.  More Cheetos were thrown, the sweatshirt swung, the woman threatened.  Fellow passengers looked for empty seats away from this ring, moving away if they could.

Eventually the storm moved on and the call to board was announced.  In the shuffle of gathering luggage and jackets, I lost sight of little Satan.  I was awash in relief that perhaps he would not be seated next to me, and that maybe, just maybe, he wouldn’t even be on board our plane.  Reassured and confident of a quiet flight, I actually exhaled a sigh of relief as I waited my turn to get on.  When my row was finally called, however, there he was, seated in first class.  Naturally.

No comments:

Post a Comment