When I got on the CTA blue line after work to head to the airport, and ultimately to Toronto, I started reading “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul” by Douglas Adams. I’ve read it several times before, but not for ages. So I didn’t remember how it started out. Here are the first few paragraphs, which I should have taken as a warning:
It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth
has ever produced the expression “as pretty as an airport”.
Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a
degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special
effort. This ugliness arises because airports are full of
people who are tired, cross, and have just discovered that
their luggage has landed in Murmansk (Murmansk airport is the
only known exception to this otherwise infallible rule), and
architects have on the whole tried to reflect this in their
They have sought to highlight the tiredness and crossness
motif with brutal shapes and nerve jangling colours, to make
effortless the business of separating the traveller for ever
from his or her luggage or loved ones, to confuse the traveller
with arrows that appear to point at the windows, distant tie
racks, or the current position of Ursa Minor in the night sky,
and wherever possible to expose the plumbing on the grounds
that it is functional, and conceal the location of the
departure gates, presumably on the grounds that they are not.
Airports can go to hell. No, airports are hell. Hell is one gigantic fucking airport, and every flight out of it is cancelled.
I eventually got to Toronto, though. Saturday morning. Early. And since I can’t really say I would have ended up doing much Friday night at midnight, when I was supposed to get there, I guess it’s not that big of a deal. Except that I was ideally planning to sleep on Friday night, at some point. Instead, I spent what was left of the night (not much) at the O’Hare Hilton. I hadn’t had a chance to eat anything since before my cancelled flight was supposed to depart, so I ate a $5 package of peanut M&Ms from the mini-bar and watched “Twilight”, which was every bit as horrible as I could have wished it to be. Lovely night. If you’re into hiking around an airport lost for five hours, being led around on a wild goose chase by contradictory arrows, and then not sleeping. Which I totally am.
(For what it’s worth, yes, I suppose it’s possible to get to the east by going far enough to the west. But I don’t think, if I was in charge of putting up the signs, that I’d try to pass that off as a viable option. Then again, I’m pretty sure that whomever put up the arrows at O’Hare was on crack. Here’s how you get to the Hilton check-in (not labelled on any map I checked, BTW): go up an escalator, go down another escalator, walk in a complete circle around terminal 2, go up OR down an elevator (your choice — they both lead nowhere), go outside and walk around the outside of the entire airport, go up an escalator, go down an escalator, go up an escalator, go all the way to terminal 5 for no particular reason, and then finally determine that the signs are full of shit, do the exact opposite of what they say, and find the damned thing by accident. Gee, why are all the people standing here waiting to check in drinking? And where’s my drink, dammit?)
I find that I need to take a break to bash my head into a wall for a while before continuing, so… hang on there.