Satire | An Early Morning in Pittsburgh International Airport

By Allison Dantinne, Senior Staff Columnist

The airport. Slated as one of the most liminal spaces one can imagine, it acts as a bridge between places, a bender of time, an introduction to the man in 17B who feels no remorse scowling as he watches you enjoy the only movie on your computer — “Legally Blonde” — and a rousing game of solitaire at the same time.

I begin my journey freshly filtered out of the TSA checkpoint, where I was unable to document my sights but surely wished I could have. TSA screening is the best place to observe human interaction. For example, I could have described in excessive detail the man experiencing the stress of forgetting how to remove New Balance sneakers, seeing them disappear and then feeling the joy of frenzied reuniting on the other side.

There are those who stand 20 patrons away from the ticket-scanning and ID-showing part of TSA, holding their Real ID licenses and printed boarding passes. There are people like me. I pull my boarding pass up on my phone, flirting with total shut-down due to a 3% battery and a desire to enjoy Hozier up until the last moment possible before presenting an ID that says more about my face at 18 and the incompetence of PennDOT than it does about me.

But alas, I’m busy placing the items from my person, objectively only four separate items, into four separate bins. In that act, I feel my own knowledge of social cues regress as I stand barefoot among strangers, feeling overwhelmed with anxiety while sorting my items. While I do believe my laptop is important and would protect it with my life, I do not believe I, nor my personal effects, are important enough to necessitate four bins. Nonetheless, I persist onward to the concourse.

Persisting onward entails waiting in line for 20 minutes to buy a coffee at the Dunkin’ Donuts right where the escalators let me off. The Dunkin’ Donuts is where all adventures must begin, as adventures require caffeine, especially when the adventurers had midterms and were not able to sleep for longer than two hours the night prior. Because of this lack of sleep, I pull my credit card out of the reader too soon, creating the awkward dialogue of explaining that I simply do not know how to read, or at the very least do not know how to read the words “do not remove” and now have to explain to the cashier, at 4 in the morning, that I cannot read properly because I’m an idiot.

She does not find me amusing. She shouldn’t find me amusing. It is 4:30 a.m.

My phone dies while I wait for my coffee. It’s very prone to dying, especially when I don’t charge it. This is both my fault and Apple’s fault.

With my journey for sustenance complete, I now embark upon my mission to find some entertainment. Therefore, I seek out one of the 30 Hudson Booksellers within this four-concourse airport, so that I may buy a Cosmopolitan for intellectual sustenance.

There are seven Hudson Booksellers/Hudson Newsstands according to the Pittsburgh International Airport map. Seven may be technically correct, but 30 is spiritually correct.

On the way to Hudson Booksellers, I pass by a TGI Fridays, slotted in between two gates, with three people seated at the bar. It doesn’t look like it feels like Friday all the time in there, even though it is technically Friday when I’m observing it. Nonetheless, it is still only reaching 5 a.m. and I’m sure that the saddest person in this airport is someone inside a TGI Fridays at 5 a.m.

Conversely, the happiest person in the airport is a woman in a leather jacket with an iced latte and a newly purchased issue of Cosmopolitan with an article about all the planets currently in retrograde and a picture of Zoey Deutch on the cover. It is me. I am the happiest woman in the airport. I have reached the height of relaxation.

I run into a friend while sitting at the charging station, writing this article and eating an egg and cheese McGriddle. I explain that I didn’t recognize them at first, as my brain was only focused on writing this satire, drinking this coffee and reading this Cosmopolitan. They say that my plan is very on-brand. Indeed.

I am only at my gate for about five minutes before the flight is announced as overbooked and the Delta agents offer $500 for anyone who can reschedule their 6 a.m. flight to the 8:40 a.m. flight. I consider this for a moment.

My time is generally worth very little. I understand this every time I rewatch “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” fully understanding that I should be diversifying my TV-watching portfolio, or even doing something more productive, such as schoolwork or more writing for The Pitt News.

I do not have a train to catch until 12:50 p.m.

I have an episode of “Drag Race UK” to rewatch, and the Wi-Fi is pretty good at this gate.

My three hours of time can now be worth $500.

I’m not even sure if my life is worth $500.

I shoot out of my seat, and without thinking about anything beyond being on time and making $500, I tell the agent I would be fine taking a later flight.

A few more people step up. And yet, from the way the agent with the red blazer holds his chin, I see that this issue isn’t going to be resolved with ease.

“A logistical problem … at this point, we continue to board … we ask again during the process.”

The man in the red blazer now seems to have a plan. It is a feeble plan. He rubs his peppery beard. A feeble plan indeed, but a plan.

The plan now involves an $800 gift card and me getting a first-class window seat.

I feel as though I “Pretty Woman”-ed myself, only the big mistake was not made against me specifically, but rather in the plane being too small for the amount of people booked. It was a big mistake. Huge. But now I reap the rewards. Now I live in luxury for about an hour and 15 minutes in the future.

Dare I say it, John Mulaney may in fact be wrong. Delta Airlines is all right. I, as a woman of comedy, can endorse this airline in this moment.

Now I lazily watch the patrons of the airport and contemplate buying another coffee. A fabulous woman in a gray trench coat and suede stiletto boots dashes through Concourse D, her suitcase trailing beside her, making her flight to Atlanta as it boards. Two children, each with tall frappuccinos, as though children need the meager caffeine of a Starbucks frappuccino at 6:48 a.m., let alone any at all. A woman with a service dog — a honey-colored golden retriever who seems only slightly distracted by the Rachel Carson mural.

Classical music plays throughout the terminal, a spritely orchestral arrangement, which sounds like spring rushing to burst forth in its unabashed colors. The people have thinned out of the airport. The music is very fitting. What a space to exist in.

Allison Dantinne primarily writes satire and humor for The Pitt News. Write to Allison at [email protected]