Averaging roughly 30 trips a year over eight years of work, I’ve found myself in a lot of airport bars. And I’m talking about the actual belly-up-to-the-bar-bar, where most lone travelers sit. It’s an interesting place to be. All people there have one thing in common: everyone is going somewhere. Whether that’s a work destination, home after a long work trip, a much needed vacation after all that work, or running away from this, running to that, or better yet, running headfirst into the unknown; everyone has some place else to be, and everyone is sitting on a story.
I’ve seen countless photos of stranger’s children, pets and other loved ones, heard numerous tales of start-up ventures, life-changing expeditions and mid-life crisis journeys, and bonded with new friends over a love of IPAs, baseball, travel and winter.
Tonight while watching the Dodgers take the Cardinals at DIA, I met a Cubs fan from Nebraska on his way back from a week-long vacation with his buddies fishing in Playa del Carmen, an Astros fan in Denver for work from the tippy tip of Texas who often makes the 19-hour drive to go skiing in Colorado, and a very free-spirited couple (fan of no baseball team) from Montana on their way to Delhi to check on their family run home for unwanted/uncared for children in India.
A bunch of people drinking alone for a short period of time until their flight boards makes for a misfit family of sorts. You learn about people because everyone is itching to talk after a few beers, but no one has their person to talk to. Technically, you could be anyone you desired, create any background you wished, say whatever you wanted. But I’ve found most people are almost too honest, no matter their story, because you know what? Who gives a shit? One of us will be gone in 20 minutes.
In airport bars, you are openly exposed to all sorts of awesome people. And then there are these people:
Young gal from Chicago at Denver Airport bar after I answered the typical “where are you from” question: “Wisconsin?! I have relatives in Wisconsin! They’re all farmers. And can you believe it? They are still farming!?!”
(oh, for crying out loud lady, we’re like two feet from you, and I’m fairly certain farming is not extinct in Illinois, outside of your big city Chicago bubble.)
Me: “Um, yeah, you know…it’s…still a thing.”