I am in disguise at the Minneapolis airport. I think in a way everyone at airports is in disguise as an ‘other.’ When you are busy trying to make your flight, cart your luggage and get a pastry for less than five dollars, the mind labels everyone around you as a homogenous other in order to lower stress.
There is black and white checkered tiles with white tables and black scaffolding making a rectangle above to support lights. the tables support iPads. Lots of them. There are 6 on my table. Back to back. The tables spread in all directions. I feel as if I have time traveled to the future. the tables look clean and modern from afar but this one has grubby stains from someones food and the lid of a soup. You swipe at the table for your purchase via iPad. It is loaded with apps for local stores, You can get your Lambrusco or tray of little meats and cheeses from the fake gourmet restaurant behind you (also equipped with iPads). This is not a high class airport, but it flatters those that are here. Makes us feel important. There is ample space to plug in devices and there are a few open seats. I wonder why it is only the G section that is furnished with these. Do the G planes fly passengers to spender places? I feel uncomfortable at being a part of a strategic but unidentifiable demographic.
The purchasing is so easy. You don’t have to get up, it will come to you. With everything here so expensive, these iPads seem like a ruse, as if the moment you seat your tired ass in the chair it will suck the pants off your legs. If this is profitable, I am very afraid. If this is profitable, soon I will walk into restaurants, airports, cafe’s and be greeted with a similar sight.
The tone on the card swipe is friendly. “Use our iPads for free, and swipe here if you’d like to purchase anything.” Use of contraction noted.
Wi-fi, notably, is “complementary” with download of an app and the viewing of a designated video. Is this the definition of free now? Is time no longer a value? Free water- with the viewing of our advertisements. I feel a deep foreboding. I can’t even post this until I arrive at my destination.
I am not sure why but I feel deeply disturbed. My broccoli cheese soup is settling in a nasty way. I feel as if this air port is a sort of 21st century trap. You are flown in, given a few hours to get bored and spend. You can’t walk anywhere without being accosted by signs, colors, and the smell of food. Burgers approach $9. You are flown out, carted off elsewhere, in my case, New York. I am currently in Minneapolis, Minnesota. But if asked later I would say I have never been to Minnesota. It is as if this airport is its own little country, and island with a moat to separate it from real life. I wonder if it is an independent entity, or if the other airports are in league. A United Capitalist Airports of America. I doubt this though because my airport of spokane, with hardly anything but a Starbucks, is not under suspicion. Certainly there would be no political dissent here. There is no unprocessed foods for me to consider purchasing. The shops stand in solidarity, charging twice as much as the real world. I got lost, because I kept passing Burger King, Caribou Cafe, a magazine shop, and Taco Bell, only to realize there are 3 locations for each so that you cannot arrive without walking past.
The workers here have a strange expression on their faces. Perhaps it is because they are constantly operating in a dual reality. For them, this is home, with the context of a big city filled with things they know and love. For us, the island is not a place but a half-way house. They look at us from under tired brows as if they know a secret. The secret is that this is a real place, and these prices are ridiculous. Although the prices themselves seem to convince us the opposite is true.