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Airport Ambling

There were a good number of folks who spent time hanging around in airports, dealing with delays or weather-related flight cancellations during the past few weeks. Waiting hours for to catch a plane is enough to bore some people to tears, and simply drive others crazy. Contributor Jim Bogan could have found himself in a similar situation many times during the past few years. But as he tells us in this postcard, instead of sitting around impatiently, he chose to take other trips-and he didn't even have to leave the airport.

Airport Ambling with Jim Bogan
by Jim Bogan

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Dear Rudy Toot Toot,

When the departure monitor on Concourse A tells me my connecting flight is leaving in ten minutes from Concourse X, the dreaded thousand yard dash is my fate. But what if there is an open hour to kill between flights? Should I succumb to the temptation of a slouchy newspaper trance? You remember what Thoreau said: "You can't kill time without injuring eternity." I am going to amble that airport instead.

A stroll out of the terminal to breathe some more or less real air is an invigorating, if modest, exploit. It is curious sport to be whopped in the lungs with some honest-to-the-tropics humidity in Miami or socked in the nose by a genuine twenty below in Caspar. Once when I was grabbing a fast dose of fresh air somewhere in North Carolina, the door spun open on a colossal sculpture of Good Queen Charlotte - wife to Crazy King George. What a gracious swirl of burnished metal!

Airports are built for the walker with their carpeted gauntlets of advertising blare - just the sort of stimulus to get a quick pace going. And moving sidewalks still give me a kick of science fiction delight, since the first one I ever saw was in a fantasy drawing of the future when I was a kid - some time ago. Cruising speed on one of those horizontal escalators actually feels faster than the previous two hours spent in space at a velocity more appropriate to a bullet than to a primate.

The romantic aura of old railway stations, when the Denver Zephyr held sway, did not transfer to DIA, but the drama is around to be perceived , if you watch for it: reunions, separations, suppressed angers, and kind gestures. I have beheld bizarre visions during my airport treks, such as the urgent fellow hugging a styrofoam cooler of what looks to be a six pack, but the black-on-orange label declares: HUMAN EYE TISSUE! I feel like an extra on the set of Bladerunner.

Sometimes airport ambling can be perilous, as I have lost track of time and inadvertently qualified for the thousand yard dash back to the gate. But I prefer to saunter down the jetway with a full fifteen minutes to spare. The flight between Texas and Toledo now offers the welcome prospect of a two hour rest and maybe a glimpse of the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

Amble on,

Jim Bogan


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