One place it is nice not to "wear" your iPod is the airport because you just miss out on too many little stories. On the way out of town on Wednesday, I'm waiting in the tiny cafe of our tiny airport and watching the cafe employees hold silent, lip reading conversations with the bar employees through the window that separated them (the bar is on the other side of the security checkpoint). They are obviously pretty good at communicating this way because after one mute, excited exchange a cafe worker turned to her colleagues and said out loud "Sinbad is coming! He's on the next plane!"
Over the next five minutes, I sat at a wobbly table sipping bitter coffee, half watching for Sinbad, half watching the airport employees gather at the arrival gate to watch for Sinbad. The next plane was small and only a few people trickled through and a few minutes after the trickle stopped a bar worker came back to the window and mouthed a message to us all that even I could read: "He's not on the plane. He missed the flight." The cafe workers went back to their counter; I returned to my old Whatzup! newspaper, and I think we were all wondering if he had really missed the plane or if he just decided he did not want to come to our town. To heck with you, Sinbad.
Even more riveting was the tragic tale I heard on the flight home. I'm crammed into the back seat of a tiny regional jet and this dude in front of me is returning from Iraq. Up until they made everyone turn off their phones, I got to listen to him grill someone about some kind of infidelity: "Just tell me . . . what did you know and when did you know it? [pause] No, F*** that, just tell me. I need to know." I could tell he was a talker and I wanted to read, so I was just praying he'd find someone else to talk to, and he did, but the story was so awful that I had to put my book down for awhile. Long story short is that he was in Iraq, his wife got killed when a semi drove through her car, and then he found out that she had been cheating on him with some other soldier for quite awhile. I couldn't tell how recent all this was, but the emotion of it all was still pretty much on his mind, so it probably didn't happen that long ago. "If you could kill her twice, I'd be driving the truck," he said. Turns out that the other soldier is going to be spending 1 1/2 years in "the brig" because they prosecute adultery in the Marine Corps.
So, anyway, flying can be interesting.