Archive for January 29th, 2009

Terminal Addiction

“I fucking HATE going through JFK!”

Those words are spoken with the same sentiment that a former heroine addict uses when speaking of their addiction. And just like when the addict returns to Needle Park, so was I the moment I stepped foot into Delta’s Terminal 2 at Kennedy.
“I fucking LOVE this place!”

Despite the layers of paint and numerous remodel attempts, Delta’s JFK facility can’t hide the fact that it was once the grand departure hall for Pan Am. The ceiling tiles are water stained and falling. The drinking fountains don’t necessarily work. The restrooms smell of piss from the last Golden Age of air travel and trapped pigeons fly over head while throngs of people push their way through corridors that were never meant for dense crowds.

I had three hours between flights and since I used to work at Kennedy, I thought I might run into a few former colleagues if I managed my time strategically. I took a quick cruise around Terminal 2 and then took a leisurely stroll to Terminal 3, which is the actual former Pan Am structure. The two buildings are connected by a wobbly set of moving sidewalks.

As I made my way to the back side of T3 I checked the departures screen to determine the gate for the Paris flight. It was too early to be listed but from the corner of my eye I spotted a familiar coordinated color scheme of pink and orange. Dunkin Donuts had come to T3 since my last visit. I ordered my usual and sat in an empty departure lounge in order to enjoy it because there is no space for tables or chairs.

The duty-free shop was boarded up, undergoing another renovation but a sign stated that it was open. Large vending machines had been placed in strategic places, selling such things as high-end ear phones, cell phone chargers and another sold ProActive skin care, products that I’ve only ever seen on television. Sunglasses and other sundries were available from the usual places and the skank-ass Burger King was still open for business.

I noticed a line near the gate to the Moscow flight and I remembered that a friend of mine used to fly that route exclusively. I thought I might see him if I planted myself there and waited for the crew to show up. While waiting I realized that there’s something remarkably wonderful about watching the young ‘bitchy-sexy-hot’ Russian women flaunt themselves at JFK. Thick pouty lips, heavy eyeliner and angular hair styles highlight the pale white porcelain-like skin. Severely pointed boots lifted up on heels – footwear made of deconstructed domes and spires from the Kremlin. From the sleeves of fur coats emerge top of the line Nokia phones.

Delta crew members straggled to the gate, only one of whom was equally ‘bitchy-sexy-hot’. Across the hall I watched as the Istanbul crew arrived. Mismatched bags, non-uniform overcoats and ill-fitted separates. Its a common theme despite having spent more money on a new uniform design.

I didn’t see my old friend but I think I passed Holly, a woman I knew from Salt Lake. By this time the Paris flight was listed – showing a departure gate of T1. It took a moment to realize that the combination referred to the next building.

Terminal 1 has been rebuilt while I was working at JFK and I witnessed the construction from within the cracked concrete, jerry-rigged acoustically poor Pan Am building. We crossed our fingers hoping that it was being built for Delta, but it wasn’t. Now because of a code-sharing agreement I had a reason to go there and I departed Needle Park immediately.

Soaring ceilings and wide halls greeted me as did working escalators. The greenery wasn’t mold. Steel buttresses supported walls of glass and in an instant my thoughts of JFK were reshaped. Beautiful, fashionably dressed people were everywhere and T1 supported their lifestyle. Hermes, Swarovski, Montblanc, Cartier and clothing shops that sold things other than t-shirts. A wine bar and cafe’ offered fine treats and firm breads.

At 4 p.m. it isn’t just the passengers one has to ooggle. Home to Air France, Lufthansa, Alitalia and Aero Mexico, T1 offers a stunning backdrop for the flight crews as they arrive for work. Crews from Paris and Milan know how to wear a uniform and a hands-free orgasm is easily achieved at the mere sight of the Lufthansa crew walking onto their aircraft. Crisp and creased with high-gloss black polished shoes – not a hair out of place. I felt the need for a cigarette when the door closed behind them.

The seating area at the gate for my flight was ample and another bistro offered fine baguettes, imported beers and dark coffee, complete with tables and chairs. Laughter came at the end of sentences spoken in various languages. Not one airline employee could be heard yelling and public address announcements sounded as if they’d been crafted using Pro Tools. Terminal 1 became my nirvana.

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