Friday, April 3, 2015

Smoking Lounge

I have become familiar with the innards of airports over the last months. Detroit, last week, had the longest stretch I have ever had to navigate on foot from gate a to gate b.

Dulles where I spent a few hours on Sunday is not as long in terms of the hike but--not unlike many contemporary airports--one has to take a tram to the gates.   And Dulles is complex. From where the rental car van drops you off, to where you have to go to get through security, is not for the wet behind the ears.  You can easily wind up at Air Ethiopia if you don't focus.

The good news for me on Sunday was that while I had a long wait before my flight, there were a number of places in the waiting areas that were showing the Elite 8 games. I watched nearly the entirety of the Michigan State--Louisville contest and did not have to yield an appendage or two for a glass of something to view the game at the bar.  Beyond the flat screen tvs, the waiting area was modern in other ways.  Nice and spacious, attractive art on the walls, contemporary lighting.

I took a stroll at halftime and ambled down the corridors.  Tony store after tony store.  The shops were tres "hoo hah", as my mother would have described them;  "high end" as a baron of the malls might say.

And then I saw an anachronism. It was as if someone inserted a museum piece to add a throwback exhibit to the terminal.  I've occasionally seen this "exhibit" at other airports, yet it startled me in Dulles.

The "exhibit" was a smoking lounge.  A place where those who indulge could go and inhale with others similarly addicted. I could only imagine how it smelled in that sealed container and how much you would need a fix to enter the cloud.  It seemed so odd there, as if there ought to have been a plaque affixed to the glass in front:

1950's airport scene. People inhaling poisonous smoke of their own free will.

I don't know too many people of my vintage who smoke anymore. We were all warned in the mid 60s, and then even those who poo poohed the advice, eventually coughed their way to wisdom.

Yet there it was, near the current iteration of "The Sharper Image" in Dulles International airport; a smoking lounge. And there was no shortage of  tenants.

What a bunch of fools I thought.

But a few hours later I had another thought.  Maybe there are different types of smoking lounges.  I look at the exhibit in the airport and I think "How can they do this to themselves", but what about the smoking lounges we all sit in.  Jobs we stay at because they are secure but not fulfilling. Relationships that provide a comfort, but are insidiously stealing time away. Clubs we frequent to pass the hours to avoid confronting the reality that we have not worked hard enough to find more joyful things to do.

Don't we all have smoking lounges? Places that are not good for us, but we nevertheless continue to visit, throwing some strawberry deodorant around our rear view mirrors to obscure the reality that we are ingesting toxins.

Have to be careful about disparaging the folks in the smoking lounge.  They could be looking at us too.

P.S. Kentucky got lucky against Notre Dame. They will not be asleep when they play Wisconsin. MSU is done.  I don't think Duke has the horses to beat Kentucky on Monday.

No comments:

Post a Comment