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Ode to the Airport Bar

ode to the airport bar

My three workmates sneered at me as we rode the limo to the airport after our yearly conference. I had just informed them I was booked from Nashville to Denver and then finally to Vancouver. “You didn’t take the direct?” “You always do that.” The scorn was palpable. I made my usual excuse about booking late or flights being full. Of course, my coworkers didn’t realize the real reason for my itinerary. It was a chance to visit one or two of my favorite establishments: the Airport Bar.

The Airport Bar is uniquely relaxing. It is a space between events or obligations in life. One is working—but not really working—or on vacation with the promise of the vacation all gleefully ahead. It’s the Free Space on the board game of life. Sitting in the Airport Bar you will never be questioned about your purpose. You are clearly on your way somewhere to do something immensely important. The guilt of sneaking down to the local on a Tuesday afternoon is totally absent.

Of course, ordering a Rolling Rock at 8:30am comes with a unique thrill. The bartender doesn’t bat an eye and the five other folks sitting on the wood with their Bloody Marys give a supportive smile and nod. A real and unique camaraderie free of status—the CEO, the pipeline worker, and the Snowbird sharing time in the most singular of all establishments. This is a place free of judgment. You’re a traveler. It’s all good.

Due to one’s unique “passing through” status, conversations start easily and are ended with complete understanding as quickly as a glance at your phone. The two of you will never see each other again so the ladies don’t feel threatened by a chat and the gents feel free to be a little playful. There is always a topic of conversation: “Where are you going?”, “What’s your business?” Completely relaxed and genuine. I’ve had many great conversations on life and politics and baseball. A 20-something girl from Michigan told me all about her job building transmissions. Fascinating enough for forty minutes. I left her with a “I wish you all the best” that was as genuine as I’ve ever given.

No, I will not pass up an opportunity to take the stress-free mini-vacation offered by a couple hours in my favorite establishment. The Airport Bar.