Upon landing at the Kansas City Airport, I jarringly think, "Fuck me running. I know this place."
I'm not sure whether you have experienced this Midwest oasis, but after exiting the plane, the passenger is bombarded with a very small area with a crap ton of people milling about and sitting in chairs. Of course, staring at you. The concourse is cut off by security (why wouldn't it be?) and seems to be the only relief from the forced claustrophobia, which is a dirty trick because you have to then re-enter the security line like a total jackass to be right back where you were. I don't know about you but when I see a thousand people staring at me my first reaction is to find someplace to hide, like an empty gate or a bathroom. I made this exit mistake the last connecting flight I had, late, and had to run around whipping my shoes and jackets off like a fucking dumbshit.
This time, instinctively, I swiftly retreat to the only real safety of the airport, which is a seat-lined corridor next to the windows. It's like upon landing, people should be briefed with maps and perhaps a warning of, "We know you'll want to leave the scary room where everyone stares at you, but- do not be alarmed! This is where you are supposed to wait in agony! Hope you wanted to pay $5 for chips today. Have a nice flight."
On the plus side, I do find it hilarious that while you cannot find a single vegetarian option, you can find metal bottles of Budweiser, tiny bottles of wine, and- yes this is gloriously true- adorable bottles of lukewarm margarita. To drink while you wait. No, you can't take them on the plane. That was posted, I didn't ask or anything. All things considered, these luscious little bottles were the most reasonably priced items I could find.
So, I sit idly in the corridor wondering who would really check if I brought the tiny bottles on the plane, when I feel a hollow rumble in my stomach. Bleary eyed from lack of sleep, sobriety, and travel preparations, I meander through the terminal stands searching for some cheap food. Chips? The only shipment today that got through was Original Lays. Blech. Fruit and yogurt? Looking at that watery yogurt was like looking into my future of spending the whole flight in the lavatory. Alright, here we go- a Quiznos stand. They can help, I'm sure of it.
Maybe not. The only sandwich without meat is their egg and cheese breakfast Sammy. I disagree with this in two parts: one, because I generally disagree to putting already cooked and then reheated eggs on anything. Two, I hate the word Sammy. Desperate enough to stoop so low, I ask the large Black man if he will still make me this "Sammy". "Ma'am breakfast stops serving at 10:30," (Imagine Orlando Jones from Office Space: "I used to be addicted to crack, but now I'm clean..."), and before he can drone any other practiced line at me I shuffle away defeated. For the record, for a place that prides itself on barbecue, the irony that they also don't have a spot to get BBQ is not lost on me.
I'm already in a bad mood from playing "I was late to the airport and now I have to pick a middle seat" roulette. I lost, horribly, and sat next to Overweight Hairy Arms and Chatty Kathy, who wanted to tell me ALL about her pilgrimage to Forks, Washington to see where Twilight had been filmed. In a different world I would be able to tell people exactly what I think of them. "Let me just stop you right there. It's not that I think you are pathetic for nearing 50 and making vampire vacations for you and Hairy Arms over there, who you didn't even have the decency to sit next to. Ok, yeah, it is fucking pathetic. Why can't you just stay at home and drink away the pain of your failed dreams like the rest of us are bound to do."
Anyway I go over to the normal looking Southwest ticket agents and ask them if I exit security whether I'll have better luck. "Well do you have time to?"
"Well there's a Great Steak & Potato that's just incredible down to the right, and there's a fancy sit-down restaurant."
Let's analyze this. First of all, under no circumstances should a fast food place, let alone one that was left behind in the 90's, be described as incredible. Secondly, if you have to describe a restaurant as "sit down", it probably won't be all that fancy either. This is an airport, nothing is going to be better than mediocre.
What I want to do is ask if they have any earlier flights out of middle-earth. Instead I back away slowly and exit security, who let me pass by without a warning or a sign letting me know that I'm going to have to be strip searched again to get on my escape vessel.
Looking at the GS&P's menu, I become acutely aware that even though my blood sugar is plummeting, and I'm turning into what many ex-boyfriend's have called 'irrationally crazy', that I will never in my life eat something called a "Cheese Tato". Ok, they've got a veggie sandwich, let's do this!
I line up behind 3 gigantic women for the only item at Kansas City with the word veggie in it that isn't immediately followed by an animal sacrifice. I order from a (Mexican?) guy who looks either stoned or extremely disgruntled, I honestly can't tell. After chopping up (steak?) some from of beef (I think?) he asks me what I want. I reply. No effort in starting said sandwich. He makes two more gross ballfat sandwiches while the ladies glare holes into this poor guy, so I feel bad for him. I have the tendency to meet people and think about how life may have left them behind (mostly because I'm terrified that it will happen to me or that it already has and I don't realize it).
He asks me again what I would like, so I humor him. "Veggie delight, but instead of mayo, could I have the buffalo sauce?"
"Our buffalo sauce is $3 more."
"Are you being serious right now?"
"I'm just playing."
I decided I'd just go ahead and leave that conversation there. So he barely gets the shreds of meat (cat?) off the little spatula things and squirts like, a lot of oil onto the pan. Yuck. He puts an assortment of vegetables onto the pan and it becomes obvious that this isn't a well-ordered item. More oil. Then more oil. He gets a bun and tosses the lot onto the white bread, which immediately becomes soaked in, you guessed it, oil. "Lettuce, tomato, mayo?"
"Um... ... lettuce and tomato."
Now, what I want to say is, "are you fucking with me or are you just really that retarded," but, since we've established that I, under no circumstances, should ever say what I am thinking out loud, I reply no. He wraps it all up and gives it to me, and it feels as if I've been outsmarted by a 3rd grader. "Are you going through security?" he asks me. Dammit! I just want this to be over with! "Yeah... but later."
"Because you can't take that soda with you."
".... I understand that." What part of me being 23, tattooed, and obviously not from your neck of the woods says to you that I've never been in an airport before?
"Because you have to drink the soda before you get on the plane." Now it feels like I'm on some sort of practical joke show, and I better be because there is no reason I should be suffering this much at 11am. I can't even say anything more because I'm too scared that if I open my mouth, inevitably a variation of "fuck you and this shitty airport" will come tumbling out.
Safely at an unused area of chairs, I take a bite of the sandwich and my mouth is immediately consumed in hell flames. And now my hands are too greasy to open the soda. And the little fucker did not give me napkins. I would swear, openly, in front of kids at this point but I'm too busy sucking in air to cool the grease fire.
Heading back through the strip search, I begin to realize with stone-faced hilarity that while there is zero warning about leaving the secure area, I did get told a thousand times by Dweedle Dee that I couldn't bring a Goddamn soda through. I secure a window seat on the plane, and strategically place sweatshirts on the middle seat. As luck would have it, a huge, fat man plops himself down into the aisle seat. Mission accomplished. Then, dreams shattering, I hear a "is this seat taken?" Son of a Whore! A tattooed, long haired redhead (grooosssss) sits down and I immediately get the impression that homeboy with the assortment of Celtic designs wants to chat. Fuck all. About 2 minutes later, my pen runs out of ink (noooOOOO!!!) and he uses this as his 'in' to initiate sparkling conversation. Why is it that people who've spent time in prison always A) want to talk to me and B) will mention their 'hard time' within two sentences of talking at me. I must have, "yes, I do want to hear about your court-ordered time in the 'slammer'" somewhere in my features that I don't know about because I can assure you, I absolutely do not care and will probably be scared shitless of you.
Feigning sleep turns into mouth-breathing drool sleep, just in time to be unconscious for the landing. There's nothing like hitting the ground and being shock-awakened with a gallon of adrenaline coursing through you. Completing the day's travels, my sanity and faith in humanity have waned significantly. Also I'm pretty sure I may have spent the day traveling through time.