The Requisite Cup of Starbucks: A Day in the Airport

Earlier this morning (june 23) I was sitting in the Spokane airport sipping my tall chai soy latte and reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Saffran Foer. Life was good, I was headed home to Carolina.

And then a two hour layover turned into a four hour delay and I missed the last flight to Charlotte. When I reached my gate, I could tell the ticket agent was waiting to see how I would react to the news that I would be spending the night in Minneapolis. But after traveling all day, I’d seen human nature at its best and worst. Since we’re stereotyping on Bark, I thought I’d take a crack at it:

The New Yorker/the Power Suit – These people are stompers. They have places to go. They don’t stand on the conveyor belt, they charge past, knocking you with their suitcases. When you get to your gate and find them waiting there, you might wonder what the rush was.

The Vacationers – Picture a man in shorts he wore on his last vacation, ten years ago. His wife is wearing a flowing, flowery caftan type outfit with nude sandals.

The Wannabe Jetsetter- Her bag is Coach, as is her seat on the plane.

Technologic- Cell phone, laptop, e-reader, mp3 player, headphones in, these guys don’t need a companion.

T.M.I – I overheard a conversation while standing in line to board my flight with over twenty f-bombs and enough venom to make everyone around lean away. It ended with a surprising, “I love you.”

Birth Control – Bobby had a cookie for breakfast. Bobby is bored. Bobby is screaming and knocking into strangers as his parents negotiate with him. Bobby is four years old and needs to be clotheslined and if you’re like “that’s abuse”, suck my finger.

Comrades-in-arms – the person or people who happen to be on every flight with you, who makes eye-contact when the flying wombat that is someone’s child knocks over the Technologic’s laptop, and who smiles sympathetically when you’re seated next to TMI. It’s good to have an ally.

So those are my favorite people in the airport or rather my top favorites but since I am writing this on my Blackberry and I’ll be up at four for my next flight, I’ll ask you to help me finish the list of the airport’s best characters.


  • Clifton Johnson says:

    The Sloths-The individual who has the seat assignment of 36A but literally stops at every seat and reviews the numbers like they don’t know where their seat is located. Okay 1A…2A… 3A….Seriously do you think the plane is playing tricks on you?!?! LADY, TAKE YOUR CARRY-ON AND MOVE TO THE BACK OF THE PLANE!

    • Monet says:

      Cliffy – that’s a good one. I was behind one of those for every flight. It goes the other way too when we exit the plane and they walk slowly like others aren’t running for a layover.

  • Seth Marlin says:

    The Retirees — they’re from Florida, they have no idea what they’re doing or where they’re going, and they will argue about it in the terminal at peak volume. “No it was 5C, not 5G. Are you sure? Let me see the boarding-lemme see it! Oh good God, they make these letters so tiny nowadays how can anybody READ them? It’s like those menus at the crab shack down in Boca, couldn’t hardly make anything out. The waiter there what was his name, whatwasitwhatwasit… Mario? Marco? Nah, that’s not it. Harold, BE QUIET I’M THINKING.”

    • Monet says:

      It’s usually those folks that can’t lift their luggage up to the cargo hold. My opinion is if you can’t lift it, you need to check it! But I am bitter and I know it.

      • Clifton Johnson says:

        I agree…If you can’t lift it…it’s not a CARRY on…I’m not going to lift it for you, leave me alone and let me sip my cocktail.

  • Mike Russell says:

    Excellent work, Monet; spot on.

    I’d like to add:

    The Secret Millionaires – These kooky first-class flyers made their money on aircraft boot technology, low-strength temporary adhesives, or organic apple scented fertilizer. Their soft, warming smile lights up everyone around them. You share a fifteen minute conversation about white-water rafting and the origins of their worn out moccasins.

    The Creative – A rare sight, but worthy of discussion. Reeking of sex, stale whiskey, clove cigarettes and marijuana, he hides his eyes behind Oakley sunglasses and long black hair. He occasionally shakes awake to a gag reflex and chokes back a dry heave.

    The Flight Attendant – She’s hopping on your flight so she can make her connection to Boston to do a quick 4 hour loop and start her weekend. She’s been at it 15 years but still gets a kick out of meeting new people.

    The Siren – The Siren chose you as her new travel bestie. She starts by gushing over your shoes; your acknowledgement secures your spot in an hour long discussion of fashion and how much she misses her cute little kitten and hopes her mom takes good care of her. (Not like last time when she knows poor mittens was hungry all week.) You spend the hour nodding politely and trying to calculate the odds of her sitting next to you on the plane. She winds up one seat over, one row up, and doesn’t mind turning around every few minutes to give you details you couldn’t live without. The Flight Attendant frowns with disapproval when she informs you they aren’t serving liquor yet.

  • I often end up sitting next to The Proud Grandparent. They have a whole carry-on bag exclusively for pictures of their grand children. After showing all the cute baby pictures and pointing out signs of genius, they move on to showing embarrassing high school portraits from ten years ago. By the end of the trip, they’ve figured out who’s single on the flight and tried to set those people up with at least one or two of their sons/daughters/grand-sons/grand-daughters.

    Also, in the terminal, with only 2 minutes to grab gum/granola bar/water bottle, I always end up behind the Indecisive Shopper. They like to engage the cashier in a lengthy conversation about the pros and cons of Twix vs. Snickers. “Let’s see, do I feel like chewy caramel on a cookie or is today a day for peanuts.”

  • Sheryl says:

    What about the 30 something “professional” female who has an aisle seat (which I’m sure she requested) and proceeds to spread out, setting up her laptop, as if she were in her office or at home, and emitting a huge sigh every time her fellow passengers need to get by her to visit the restroom, making a slow show of shutting down her laptop before getting up to let them by. I sat one seat behind and across from this circus during a flight and was torn between wanting to slip my hands around her throat and/or letting her seat mates know I felt their pain.

  • Mom says:

    No one mentioned me:) The horrified flyer who hasn’t flown in over twenty years, but does so because she drove her daughter across country and now has to fly back home. She clutches the seat like a life-line and jumps at every move the plane makes. Her every conversation is about what happens if the plane goes down. Not the most pleasant person to sit next to:)

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