It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression "As pretty as an airport."
– Douglas Adams
I hate airports.
I hate their architecture, identical in every city no matter what attempts at local color are pasted over it. Metallic, vaulted, sharp-edged ceilings arc over vast expanses of smudged, dusty glass and stainless steel. Below, acre upon acre of scuffed linoleum and gray high-traffic carpeting is scattered with the minor detritus of a million passing people, microscopic crumbs of food, droplets of coffee and soda, threads and lint from parkas and duffel bags and raincoats and Bermuda shorts, fragments of magazines and books and boarding passes. Departure lounges are full of haphazardly distributed seating – a hundred minor variations on linked rows of narrow seats upholstered with greasy, worn black vinyl over sagging plastic foam padding.
Nobody who has flown more than once boards an airliner for the pleasure of flying; we strap ourselves into the tight seats in the climate-controlled, can-like cabins because we hope, in the end, the destination will be worth the discomfort, the inconvenience, and the anxiety. Airports are in this way the ultimate expression of a society given over to justifying means by their ends – the hours we spend in airports, taking off our shoes and belts and watches and standing still for the security pat-down while agents paw through our luggage; sitting on uncomfortable benches next to anxious, irritable people and staring at harsh Arrival/Departure boards; eating prepared salads and pale cubes of melon and flat, greasy hamburgers – we accept these things because we have decided that they are necessary, if we are to get to wherever it is that we are going.