04 May 2010

Omer 35: Terminal

Omer Day Thirty-Five

Airports are really much noisier than they ought to be.  The constant din of Muzak, in atonal symphonic disharmony with the live feed of CNN and other cable news outlets always puts me on edge, precisely when I am trying to remain calm about being propelled through the air inside of a flammable metal tube.  Given the fact virtually everyone is wired these days and airline terminals are populated by typing, talking, texting travelers, there's enough to do without having to filter out both the inexplicably awful music as well as the incessant buzz of the televisions that no one in particular seems to be watching.

If I were running an airport, I'd keep the shops but make the waiting areas like public library reading rooms, encouraging a small form of social engagement and learning as a form of dealing with the anxiety of propulsion and lift.  Encouraging people to rise to the level of human is a good thing; rubbing our brains into submission with canned junk is not.  Given the easy access to information, why not larger screens with the local newspaper sites open in each of the waiting areas for particular cities of destination.  Encourage people to think along narrative structural lines before boarding a plane to a particular place.

Traveling to New York today?  Grand Rapids?  Phoenix?  Dallas?  What's going on in those places?  What are they talking about in headlines of the dailies?  I'm in the Milwaukee airport right now, waiting for a flight back to Laguardia.  In front of me is a woman trying to sell people a Frontier Airline credit card (free round trip ticket.)  In more than 45 minutes, no one has stopped.  She literally can't give away a free ticket.  But what if there was someone there to lead a conversation about the oil spill off the Louisiana coast?  Or immigration policy in Arizona?  Or unemployment in Grand Rapids?  Having just visited Mom and checked in her therapy, I have a few thoughts about the remarkable cancer care in the Milwaukee Metropolitan area.  And the health care system in general.  Obesity workshops suddenly come to mind--how's Mrs. Obama doing on that? 

That sort of thing.

I maintain travel would be more enjoyable.

Gotta go--they're boarding.  To be rescued from this terminal has come to an end.

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