Time zones were about to shift two hours. I had three hours of flying, an hour grabbing my bag and a rent car, and another hour’s drive ahead of me. I would be teaching class tonight in Malibu.
Having made this same trip 2 weeks ago, my expectations were pretty clear. So, rather than settle for fast food in Calabasas, I grabbed a counter seat at the airport restaurant and ordered a healthier and more substantial fare.
The counter looked out into the concourse — just across from the entrance to the Skylink. I made a note to come back here more often. Good food and a great place to watch people.
I saw him coming from a gate away. A young man, he was short and stocky. His head was shaved and he carried a briefcase in addition to the pack on his back. I heard him coming first. He was one of “those.” You know. One of those who has discovered the wonders of having a phone headset — and believing that no one can overhear you talking on it.
By the time the hostess had seated him two stools down from me, I had heard him initiate and finish two calls. He looked over the menu, ordered, and then placed his third call.
Apparently, the individual on the other end had nothing better to do that morning. Over the course of the next 15 minutes, that individual and the dozen or more of us sitting close by learned that this young man was a truck driver, that he had apparently gotten some sort of infection, and that he had pictures of the affected area. To make a long story short — which he did not — he was being flown home to get medical attention.
Thanks to the fact that he had a camera on his cell phone, we were spared a graphic description of the apparently degenerating patch of flesh. The friend on the phone was promised a number of frames as soon as the call was over.
None of us were spared from the truck driver’s blistering verbiage, however. Only in movies had I heard the same word used so many times, in so many ways, and with such wholesale disregard for whether the word was even remotely appropriately for the message.
The man sitting between me and the truck driver hastily packed up his laptop, gulped the last half of his coffee, and exited. The woman at a table on the other side of the counter sat with her hands over her son’s ears.
Accustomed to shouting over the whine of his diesel engine, the truck driver continued to bellow into the phone. People walking by would look up with shock, and then disgust. He remained oblivious.
I know that society’s line of propriety moves constantly. I just wish it wouldn’t creep toward mine at light speed.