Tuesday, May 04, 2010

De Plane

The escalator seemed to go down forever. She counted three floors. Overhead, fluorescent lights lit the area. They were dingy, the plastic covers yellowed with age. The bulbs themselves weren't even all the same color, some letting off a more yellow tinged light while others were a brighter wide. She expected to see at least one flickering, but there none. There were all kinds of dead bugs trapped up there and quite a few flies buzzing around.

At each floor, glass partitions allowed in light and she could see people many people standing around. Between each floor, vast expanses of white. The walls, too, were discolored. Large squares suggested that at one point, posters had been hang on the walls in an attempt to class up the place, but not now.

Finally at long last her journey down reached an end. She found herself in a long tunnel. The walls were flat, but it was definitely a tunnel. The ceiling contained more fluorescent lighting, sprinklers and vents thick with dirt. There was a slight rumbling every so often.

She paused momentarily but quickly realized people would quickly be stacking up behind her if she didn't keep moving. She grabbed the handle of her suitcase, and stepped forward down the corridor. She assumed that the hallway must run under a roadway or something.

Soon, the blank walls gave way to a tile mosaic, the lighting grew better and finally she saw a nice sign reading "Welcome to Los Angeles." A few more steps and she found herself in a large cavern with four story walls of glass and round steel pillars at various angles.

She looked around to the left and the right, searching for a sign from her airline. Finally she spotted the logo and began to proceed towards the carousels. She scanned the signs for her flight number. Spotting it, she strode forward. The carousel was empty, not yet moving. She set her bag up, extended the brace and perched herself on it to wait.

A very weary family of four showed up next. The mother and father leaned on a cement pillar. The mother was holding a sleeping baby in her arms while a young boy ran in circles around their legs. The baby had not slept during the flight. She had been thankful to have been at the front of the plane and they had been at the back. How had they been the next to arrive? Had they let the family deplane ahead of everyone else?

Soon enough, a young man with ear buds, a group of women wearing sweats and a young businessman with a suitcase joined their little waiting party. And then the blond haired man that had been reading the Watership Down for the entire flight wandered over as well. Pretty soon the place was thick with people, crowding and jostling in front of her to be as close to the conveyer. Which was still not moving.

The baby slept on, but the young boy was screaming a song at the top of his lungs. People glared at the parents, but they looked beyond their capacity to do much about it. One of the ladies in the sweats crouched down and just stared at the boy. He stopped his "singing" and regarded her with a turned head. She smiled and covered her eyes and he reciprocated.

All the sudden, a large bell and a yellow light began rotating above the conveyor. For all the style of the new baggage claim area, some things couldn't be helped. She was sure that the architect wunderkind who designed the space with its giant loft structure with full-sized planes suspended from the ceiling hadn't intended for such an ugly monstrosity to grace his most recent opus.

There was a loud groan, several unsettling "ker-chunk" noises and the conveyor lumbered to life, slowly spinning counter-clockwise, large metal plates sliding on top of one another. Then with a hum, the second feeder conveyor began to move and after a few minutes, spit out its first bag.

She sighed. So close, and yet she knew she wasn't quite home yet. Undoubtedly, her two bags would eventually come, but they probably wouldn't be together or anywhere near the start of the conveyor. Which was fine with her, she was in no hurry to fight through the mob to her bag. Of course, after that, it would be a walk to the curb, onto a bus to her car, back into her car and then a 45 minute drive through the evening traffic home.
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