I rarely find a fellow traveler that impresses me.
As I’ve talked about before, I travel plenty, and I know what I’m doing. I walk with purpose, I don’t block thoroughfares and I know where the fuck I’m going. I wish I could throw away people’s luggage the way George Clooney does to Anna Kendrick in Up In The Air.
On a recent flight from Houston to Denver, I found my seat – window, exit row, of course – and in the middle seat was already a young woman about my same age. We exchanged pleasantries, and then retreated into our respective distractions – she, a Kindle, and me, a WTF podcast and an issue of Esquire. The flight unfolds unremarkably.
As we exit the plane, I kick it into my Airport Walk gear, which is about 1.5x my normal pace. I spend enough time in airports as it is, this pace ensures that time is minimized wherever possible. The young woman has an even more impressive pace. I silently nod my head in approval.
We descend the escalator, and she heads to the same spot I do while waiting for the train – extreme end of the very first door, which, when the train stops, is nearest the up escalator allowing you the hole shot to get up it and out of this goddamn teepee-shaped gulag before you have to climb over a bunch of mouthbreathers trying to figure which direction the baggage claim is. The way some people travel, I wonder how they managed to dress themselves that morning, let alone get to the airport and board a plane successfully.
Unfortunately for the young woman, she acquiesces to a woman in a stroller and loses prime position on the train delaying her exit, which I nail, bombing up the escalator, past the rental car counters, and toward the elevators, this close to SWEET FREEDOM.
Thanks to the incredible gait of the young woman, she actually passes me on the way to the same elevators, and beats me inside. I notice we’re parked on the same level, which isn’t surprising considering the mirrors of efficiency we are. Also on this elevator is a clumsy old woman with a giant luggage cart who asks if the lighted button means we’re currently on Level 3.
Uh, no, the lighted button indicates the destination floor, I tell her as the young woman and I share an incredulous “is she serious?” glance. The old woman then presses 4, exits gracefully with her luggage cart making roughly a 9-point turn on the way out, and the young woman and I can’t help but laugh.
We don’t share names, but since we’re clearly bonded by similar travel sensibility, we politely chat along the corridor to the parking lot about where our travels usually take us. It’s not often you find someone just like you – especially in this particular instance since your entire philosophy is built on efficiency and escape – so it’s sort of fun. I’m in the middle of a sentence, I think about traveling to Washington, DC, and it’s clear we’re heading in different directions, so I cut off mid-sentence and bid her adieu. I think of Edward Norton in Fight Club. She’s my favorite recent single serving friend.”
It’s nice to find someone like you – but let’s be real. I won’t see her again. And we’re both good with that. We both got better places to be.