Things are weird … I must be at the airport

My adult daughter texted me when I was about an hour from the airport.

“Flight delayed. Ugh.”

Communication technology has improved vastly since I was her age. Back then, someone would have to drive to an airport to look at the arrival board (probably written in charcoal on the back of a shovel), see the plane was late and curse silently while smoking in the airport lounge. Today we know everything as it happens and can curse in real time. Kind of takes the fun out of it.

I hate airports. They smell of anger and impatience.

Walking slowly down the concourse, I did what I always do in unfamiliar places, I scoped out the bathrooms. I imagine airport bathrooms are like the cantina at the Mos Eisley spaceport in “Star Wars,” dirty and littered with alien body parts. I’m not going to mention what they smell like.

People hurried by dragging wheeled carry-on suitcases that usually weigh too much to actually carry on the plane. Others milled around waiting for loved ones. Still, others walked around carrying packages to hand to strangers like the recorded voice on the loudspeaker warns against.

The arrival board said the flight from Houston was on time. Hmm. A text from my daughter 15 minutes after the first said, “Flight delayed – AGAIN. OMG.” A normal person would understand the airport made a mistake. My mind considered alternative dimensions.

I almost asked an airport employee about the flight, but working at the Mos Eisley spaceport probably makes them as surly as an Olive Garden waiter, so I moved on. My daughter would text when she was ready.

Then I saw her lying across a bench in the fetal position, a stocking cap pulled low and her arm across her face. All I could see was her eyebrows and her hair sticking out from beneath the cap.

Definitely her.

“Hey,” I started to say, but didn’t want to wake her. I sat on a bench next to her and smiled. She must have gotten up around 5 a.m. to make her flight and would be tired. I figured I should let her sleep a few more minutes.

Airport crowds are eclectic. A group of loud college students clomped by. A man who smelled of cigarettes stopped in front of me to check his phone. But it was the woman carrying the miniature dog in a sweater that made me nervous. I don’t understand people who dress their dogs like little people. If they’re going to put clothes on a dog, they should at least dress them as something dignified. You know, like Batman.

I leaned over to shake my daughter’s leg, but stopped. She held her phone in a gloved hand. That’s it. I’d wake her with a text. Perfect. I punched in, “I’ll be at least an hour late.” Ha, that’s funny.

Seconds later her phone rang and she sat up. My stomach lurched. It wasn’t my daughter.

I got up and moved. Quickly, but not too quickly. No, nothing wrong here, just a kindly father almost rubbing a strange girl’s leg. Did I mention I hate airports? I hate to get arrested in them even more.

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