Monday, February 9, 2015

I Am The Sociopath At The Airport

The first time I ever took a flight was when I was about 20 years old; so not too long ago. Since airports and planes wern't really a part of my childhood,  I think in my head I presumed only real important people who have to go out there to accomplish real important tasks, lest the balance of the world suffers, take flights. The rest of us lower mortals could waste our lives sitting in trains holding our pee. It's not like we had some place to be or anything.

So when stepping into an aircraft became a regular occurrence for me, somewhere deep down I always questioned if I deserved to be there. I think it was then that I became a sociopath.

I reach the airport hours before I need to be there and this has very little to do with the fact that I have missed two flights in the past. My charade starts some time between my entrance into the airport and getting in line for my boarding pass. I look around, make eye contact, smile at strangers, fake a phone call or two and really pretend like I am moving to Switzerland for good or something! Once the boarding pass and security procedures are out of the way, it's time for the main part of my act.

I like to call it 'The One With The Bar.'

I find me a seat at the bar, order a large whiskey (because what else would a "real important" person drink?) or a Long Island Iced Tea and fake a phone call. The call usually entails me talking to someone about a meeting that needs to be taken care of or about the presentation that I am not impressed with; depends on what I'm feeling that day. When the bartender gets me my drink, I say "cheers" to him with the best brand of my feigned fabulous. The bartender chats me up and I make him laugh in return, with careful blushing every now and then.

Scene is set. Now time for the stranger.

It's almost always a guy. It's almost always not Indian. He comes sits next to me and we get to talking somehow - about our delayed flight, about our common preference in alcohol, about the plight of women in India.
For absolutely no reason, I give out a fake name and generic sounding false professional details. I also tell him a life story that didn't really happen but he laughs anyway. He asks me tips about travelling in India and I dish out insights I have gathered from friends' Facebook albums about the Kerela backwaters and Hampi.

As my head buzzes from alcohol and conversation, we go to the smoking room. I half smoke my cigarette and stub it because it is now finally time for my flight and for my last act.

We say our goodbyes as easily as we said hello and I walk to my boarding gate. I step on the plane, find my seat, smile at the stranger sitting next to me (my last one to a stranger that day) and fall asleep.

I then wake up in a new city.