Yesterday I went to purgatory — at least I call it purgatory. Most people call it the airport. .
It used to be fun to go to the airport and pick someone up and watch the planes come in. But now you can’t go where the planes are. You have to wait for arriving passengers at the security gates and hope they didn’t take the escalator that goes down to luggage pickup instead of coming back to the gates.
You might as well just pick someone up outside of the airport and be done with it. Everyone seems to have the same idea, though. Traffic circling the airport is like rush hour downtown.
Our airport has a front way in and a back way in. We usually go the back way since it is closer to home and there is not as much traffic. This time we had to take the front way as we were coming from downtown. The road is wide and the traffic heavy as we enter purgatory.
There is a lane for everything, long-term parking, short-term parking, departures, arrivals, rental cars, taxis, busses, commuter vans, pickup lanes, drop-off lanes and lanes of no return. The lane we need to be in is always on the opposite side of the lane we are in. You need to really be careful in purgatory or you could find yourself on the fast road to a very bad place.
The airport likes parkers who pay to park and they make it easy for them to get to the short-term parking lot. They do not like non-paying non-parkers who add to the congestion but not to the budget. At least it seems that way as we weave our way in and out of the confusing maze of traffic. There are signs, plenty of signs, even signs telling you to watch for other signs.
How do you pick someone up outside the door when you are not allowed to park? We find a few slots by the door so we slide into one of those along with all the other people trying to pick up an arriver. “Ten minute parking” says the sign. “Leave your trunk open.” “No unattended vehicles,” “Cross your legs and wait.” Of course, Honey decides he needs to go inside to the bathroom and leaves me all alone to deal with purgatory.
When he comes back, the security guard tells us “Your time has run out.” So, we leave our empty spot for the other lost souls. Now in a holding pattern, we circle the airport, and circle, and circle like we are following a labyrinth.
Finally, we notice a sign that says “cell phone lot.” In the back of my over-heated mind, I remember someone (probably a security guard) once told me that you could wait there for a flight to arrive. I don’t know why they don’t call it “short-term waiting lot”. So, we pull in and read more signs about not leaving your vehicle unattended while we wait for the much-lamented plane to arrive.
An electronic sign flashes with arrival times for the incoming flights. There must be airplanes somewhere, even if we can’t see them. Our flight is arriving 15 minutes early. Good, we won’t have to wait much longer. Our person can call us when she gets here and we can circle around and pick her up.
Finally, our flight comes up and it’s back to timed parking where we are already on bad terms with security, but this time we actually find our passenger and make a clean getaway before time runs out and the security guard nabs us.
Now if we can only find our way out of purgatory without going into a long-term parking lot or taking a shuttle. It is hard to avoid the front way as all roads lead to town. Finally, we find the narrow road for the back exit. The signs direct us to go north or south — but it’s an east/west road! Fortunately, we guessed right.
My airport atonement is done for a while. I just hope I can make it home before my time runs out for good.
Copyright 2011 Sheila Moss