Always expect the unexpected. Because you should at ATL. 96 million passengers would agree. You can arrive at Gate 3, almost the tail end of Concourse T and walk a very long way, ride down the steepest escalator in known existence and catch the speedy train to the B Concourse. Ride up another very steep escalator. Merge into the human traffic jam.
Pause and refresh. Watch someone flat iron their hair and repack a bag while sitting on the floor of the facility. Wash hands without touching any faucet. Start down B concourse which is the same length of T concourse, about 5 football fields or so it seems.
Inhale the tobacco as you walk past the hermetically sealed Smoking Lounge because the book says passengers can no longer spit, chew or vape on an airplane. Buy a $9 sandwich and a Cherry Coke. Arrive at Gate B26, almost the last possible gate available in that region of the state. Enjoy splitting the sandwich with your traveling companion. A very fresh sandwich it is. Pause to breathe. And then, a crackled announcement ruins the moment. Flight 456 will depart from Gate T3. You have got to be kidding me?? Another journey back through the maze.
But the maze is not all bad. There are people everywhere going everywhere. Just because you can doesn't mean you should ever wear white knit shorts in November in Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta while winter clad people haul suitcases full of cashmere sweaters, fleece sweats, black leather boots, hand knit scarfs and flannel shirts. Even if your suitcase holds a bikini, a terrycloth leisure set, another pair of white knit shorts, a halter top and a designer towel. Put on some clothes for goodness sake.
I would not feel comfortable walking through this maze even in my good shorts. All of these people hurrying from Gate B26 to T3 creating a circuitous route through the long concourses. The beep beep beep of the Runaway Mine Train moving walking-challenged people in an efficient manner. These folks are not wearing white shorts.
I know I don't have the legs for it even on a sunny day in my own backyard hundreds of miles to the west. This person was ill advised at some point in her preparation.
This population is not dressed for go to meeting but they are not slobs. New York City, Washington D.C. and Montana and France and England and maybe Tucson, Amsterdam and Mexico, Columbus, Ohio and Minnesota and Maine.
Only one person is walking around in white knit shorts. Other travellers have the good sense to walk around in camo, ballcaps, leggings tucked into boots, military uniforms. One man is wearing a fancy leather NY Yankees baseball jacket. Another man is carrying his wife's pink and black sequined carry-on bag. And what is the deal with carry-on? It should be called "sets of luggage disguised as carry on."
A chic, older woman is surveying life behind large black sunglasses, wearing a tidy black beret over her soft, simple hairstyle, a black two piece suit cinched stylishly, pale hosiery with a sharp pair of black suede pumps. A gold brooch finishes off her panache. She will arrive in classic fashion. Obviously, Ms. CC has not eyed Ms. WS.
A toddler with duck yellow boots is being packed along kangaroo style by his father. Fringe is hanging off of purses, sweaters, hats and boot tops. Every other person is sporting the controversial red Starbucks Coffee Cup or a cool pair of ear buds nonchalantly hanging from their neck.
There are so many people it makes you wish you had the patent on the rolling bag. So many people you think you would see someone you know. But you don't. Only your life's partner. You still recognize him.
The automatic trash bin is annoying but obviously not enough to wake the people sleeping on the floor of the airport - in their tropical attire. I definitely would never sleep on the floor of the busiest airport in the world even if I was arriving or departing and everything got mixed up. Maybe sleep in a chair - very uncomfortable to sleep with your mouth open in front of complete strangers.
Arriving and departing. For a funeral, a wedding, a class reunion, a family member having surgery, the uncertainty of a new love, a job interview. Leaving a new grandbaby, a film festival, a prayer meeting, a cross-stitch convention, a pineapple farm.
A harried mother with one stroller. A little pony-tailed cutie is trying to keep up with her mother who is weaving through people, around chairs to the automatic trash bin and back to the stroller. A baby is squirming in the mother's arms. The little girl leans over the stroller while the baby is being buckled in. "I'm going with you." A little reassurance is all we need sometimes.