Vignette of a Guy in an Airport

The PA system reminds passengers in three languages to adjust their clocks to Eastern Standard Time. The day is bright and gray. He sits by the window overlooking the boarding ramp and across the runways.

An elderly Asian man sleeps stooped in a chair, his chin on his chest, and a large happy woman reads fan fiction while her cell phone charges.

The concourse is quiet and sparsely populated when two businessmen arrive and sit a few rows down. They brush off their seats with an old newspaper and sit with one seat between them. He judges them based on appearance.

Man A: Gray Sport Coat, men’s size 7 black loafers with buckles, thin lips, small cranial vault.

Verdict: Racist

Man B: Full head of salt and pepper hair, wire rimmed glasses, striped shirt with one button undone at top, no wedding band.

Verdict: Mystery. But if one must guess, divorced and new to online dating.

Elderly Asian man wakes up, puts on white cloth gloves, takes off his shoes, and goes back to sleep.

The men’s size 7 racist receives a phone call, answers, and a new verdict is reached: Gay.

He wonders how these two final assessments were reached using the same criteria, and begins to analyze his methods and childhood.

A woman in her late-twenties/early-thirties sits facing the opposite direction in the row behind him. She’s attractive but doesn’t know so, but she hopes so, and she kind of thinks so. Her hands and feet are mani-pedied in the same shade of pastel pink. She bites her lips and thumbs her phone due to some weak but persistent anxiety. She is tanned but naturally pale. She was on his connecting flight and begins to take notice of his curious glances. She intentionally avoids eye contact and hopes he’s not on her next flight. He is, and men are terrible.

The gate attendants break the still with a laugh. Radios beep and the PA reminds passengers in three languages to set their clocks to Eastern Standard Time. The windows beside him shake and a jumbo jet heaves itself upward into the bright gray sky.