So – I had some time to myself when I got to Milwaukee for my connecting flight. I found myself noting that the concourse / terminal itself was incredibly drab and depressing. The color scheme was all gray and faded blacks in odd patterns that were probably eye catching twenty or more years ago. Add to that the fact that it was like a ghost town, not even the people from my own flight were there. I’d been shoved into a window seat on a puddle jumper. The person in the aisle seat didn’t do the ‘stand up as soon as the lights come on thing’ that every seasoned traveler is prepared for, so I had to wait until nearly the last person from the back of the plane got off before I could move into the cramped aisle and, stooped over cuz it was too short for me to stand up in, dragged my bag from the over head bin and made my way out into the concourse. By the time I got there, it was empty. I saw a few workers at the little hot dog place, a couple more at the coffee place, but other than them, it was empty.
I headed into the bathroom and saw the same drab colors only now with really poor lighting and a pool of water spread across the floor in front of the sinks. Yuck. I did my business and ran for it. When I sat down at my gate, I was the only one there and I had an hour before my flight started boarding. I did a few tweets but the over all mood of the place, the state of the bathroom – for whatever reason, I was inspired to pull out my laptop and write. It’s not part of any larger story, it’s just something that had to get out of my brain.
I saw it as sort of a ‘traveling sales man’ story, I don’t know.
I offer it up to you here today. I named the file ‘Depressing’. 715 words for about 45 minutes worth of (mostly) random writing at the Milwaukee airport.
Everything was depressing; the drab gray color of the carpet with its half-moon, sweeping dark pattern broken up by odd checkered boxes all of which were faded and blended together after only God knows how many years and thousands of travelers. Staring at it made his brain shut off for a time as he walked through the concourse, dragging his roller bag behind him, the front wheel squeaking every four steps like clockwork.
“Where’s the bathroom?” he asked someone in a dark shirt with dark pants and a lanyard weighed down by identification cards, key cards, keys and a slew of things he didn’t exactly understand in his current state of hazy, fringe awareness. A smile and a nod, a finger pointed behind him. Embarrassed at his stupidly walking too far and passing his destination, he grimaced a thank you and spun on his heel, that front wheel of his bag protesting the sharp change of course loudly.
Inside was no better than outside; the bathroom covered in two shades of gray tile, one dark one light, both depressing. It sank his mood further, already deep and hollow thanks to a day of travel in too small planes with too cramped chairs and not enough elbow or leg room for a man of his height; six foot six. The floor here was sticky, his shoes making that noise like Velcro being pulled apart. Each step forward caused his shoulders to twitch, his stomach to roll. It was disgusting. He wanted to vomit.
Above him the light was dim and he grumbled about the damned environmentalists and their stupid bulbs that gave off half the light of their predecessors. Was it really going to kill the earth to give him enough light to see what the hell was around him?
To his right a row of urinals without dividers; he couldn’t handle that, not with his shy bladder. If someone else came along behind him, he’d never be able to piss. Not that that was very likely given that most of the people from his flight had made a bee line for baggage claim. He had a connecting flight in an hour and the only other soul he’d seen had been the young man in the dark shirt and pants. Still, it was a possibility so he veered left and saw the yellow sign warning of a slick floor. Staring at the reflected light he snorted. Slick? It was a cesspool of standing water! There was a row of sinks here and whoever had used them had tried their best to create a new lake right there on the floor!
Carefully picking his way through that mess, lifting his bag and clutching it to his chest, he went maybe seven paces before there was a sharp right and a row of dark stalls. The first one had urine in the bowl; he wondered how that happened when it had one of those sensors above it (thank you very much mister and misses environmentalist). There was also paper strewn across the floor so he passed. The second was in no better condition so he made his way for the handicapped stall at the end. It looked clean enough but he couldn’t be sure in the dim light.
Pushing his bag into the corner, he used the tip of his shoe to flip up the seat, failing twice to get it to stay before, with a grin of triumph, it remained vertical. He sighed then, as he always did when the piss was flowing and the pressure slowly fading away. He may have grunted too, he did that from time to time these days, much to the embarrassment of his son.
Circles in the bowl round and round. Dribble. Dribble. Shake. Shake.
He stepped away and waited for the little sensor above the toilet to blink or not blink or whatever it was supposed to do and flush the toilet. Nothing happened. After zipping back up, he waved his hand in front of it – nothing. There was a little button on it so he gave the paper roll a tug, balled up the results and used it as a buffer between his finger and the button so he could press it.
Woooosh, went the toilet as it flushed.