Jerks of the Week: Jerks of Philadelphia International Airport
I was on an airplane twice prior to Sept. 11 - once when I was 8 for a family trip to Arizona and a second time at the age of 14 on another family vacation to Florida. I don't really remember much from either experience - and for good reason.
I naturally don't recall much about the first trip. As an 8-year-old, all I can remember about the flight was how long it took and how terrible the food was. There isn't anything that stands out to me as a 14-year-old either; I was too angry at the world to file anything into my memory cabinet, as I was frustrated that no girl showed interest in me. The closest I came to scoring a date was when this girl Sarah agreed to come over to my house, but she sent her younger brother Kevin instead. That was a depressing day.
I do remember getting off the plane though because my dad and I also saw former Philadelphia 76ers center Eric Montross at the airport after we landed back in Philadelphia. The 76ers just traded for Montross, and my dad was excited.
Dad: Montross is a great player!
Dad: Yes, the 76ers are going to beat the Chicago Bulls with him and win the championship!
I believed my dad because Montross was this intimidating 7-footer, but he went on to average 3.4 points per game with the 76ers, who finished 31-51 that season. Months after seeing Montross at the airport, my dad would go on to curse at him whenever seeing him on TV, complaining about how much he sucks. That was a depressing year.
Still though, I wish I could recall more of my previous flying experiences just to have an idea about how different airports were in the pre-Sept. 11 world. I can't even imagine how bad they were prior to those devastating attacks because they're so bad right now. There are so many crackhead workers and stray bums occupying Philadelphia International Airport, it's no wonder that several psychopaths were able to orchestrate those infamous attacks in a time in which there was even less security.
Being in a long-distance relationship officially for about seven months now, I've been able to observe these crackhead workers during my frequent trips to Philadelphia International Airport, and I have enough encounters with them to compile an entire Jerks of the Week entry.
1. Miss Vivian
If you happen to fly US Airways on a Sunday morning, you'll encounter the infamous Miss Vivian at the security checkpoint. You can hear her shouting all the way on the bottom floor. It's always stuff like:
"My name Miss Vivian, and we gone make dis security line go quick!"
"Young man! Let the young woman go true! Let the young woman go true!"
"Young woman, dis security line gone go quick if you stop talkin' on the cell phone!"
"Young man, go true dis line to get quick to the security line!"
"Young woman, if you want to go quick true the security line, follow Miss Vivian direction!"
Miss Vivian is crazy. Not only does she needlessly shout at everyone trying to get through the security checkpoint, she calls every single man "young man" and every single woman "young woman." It doesn't matter how old they are. There was a gray-haired man with a cane struggling to walk, yet she called him "young man." Even worse, this fat, old woman in a wheelchair was being pushed around when Miss Vivian barked:
"Errbody move aside, move aside! Miss Vivian not gone warn you 'gen to let the young woman go true! Dis a hard-working young woman and she got a cart!"
I've never heard a wheelchair referred to as a "cart" before, and I have no idea where she got "hard-working young woman" from. This old lady was in her 80s, and she most definitely hasn't been hard at work in at least a decade.
I wasn't there to hear this, but Awesome Girl Who Loves Football texted me once that after I left, Miss Vivian inexplicably shouted:
"My name Miss Vivian, and I give you a free Ziplock bag!"
I have no idea what that means, or why anyone would want any of Miss Vivian's shady Ziplock bags. It's just scary to think how many Miss Vivians there were employed at the airport in the pre-Sept. 11 world.
2. Parking Garage
The parking garage at the Philadelphia International Airport is the worst. It's so huge, yet there's never any parking available unless you happen to be picking someone up late at night. But on a weekday morning? Forget about it. You have a better chance of winning the lottery and getting struck by lightning on the same day than finding a parking spot.
This may sound like any normal busy parking area, but there are two particularly infuriating things about it. First, there are signs throughout the parking garage that indicate how many open spots there are in each sector and floor. There's a red "X" if the area is full or a green number indicating how many available spots there are.
This may sound convenient, but it's always wildly inaccurate. After failing to find an empty spot on the first two floors, I was glad to see a green "34" number on the third floor. There was a green "20" with a right arrow in one of the sectors. So, we followed the arrow, but saw no available spots. We then came to a red "X" indicating that there were no spots available. Why tell us there are 20 spots available if there aren't any? And who's operating the parking lot computers? It's either a chimpanzee in a suit mashing random keys on the computer or an a**hole who just likes to mess around with people.
Awesome Girl Who Loves Football and I scoured the entire third and fourth floor carefully, yet couldn't find a single spot. We tried going up to the fifth floor, but there was a barrier blocking our progress. I had to put my car in reverse. I did so, and WHAM. I hit a yellow post.
That's the second irritating thing about the Philadelphia International Airport parking garage - there are these annoying yellow posts everywhere. It's impossible to navigate through them without crashing into them on a few occasions. It's horrible. I hit four yellow posts that morning. I haven't checked my car, but it's probably covered in yellow paint.
I was going insane from being unable to find a spot and hitting those damn yellow posts, so I just gave up. I parked in a handicapped spot. I normally would have felt bad about doing so, but there were plenty of handicapped spots available, and there was really no alternative for us. The sign warned of a fine of $50-$200 and a possible towing, but I decided to risk it. I was OK with a fine, and because I was only going to be there for 20-30 minutes, that wouldn't give the chimpanzee operating the parking lot computer enough time to call for a tow truck. Besides, I was going to completely lose my mind if I hit another damn yellow post.
3. PDA Alert Woman
Philadelphia International Airport's terminal system is completely out of whack. Awesome Girl Who Loves Football was flying Delta Airlines on her way back to school. We saw a sign that said Delta was located in Terminal D. That's where I picked her up when she arrived in Philly, so we went back to that terminal.
However, once we arrived at Terminal D, we didn't see any check-in counters for Delta. We asked one of the workers where we could check in, and he said that we'd have to go to Terminal E.
Umm... what? If you can't check in to a Delta flight at Terminal D, why have a sign indicating that Terminal D is for Delta? Why Terminal E? Unless I'm mistaken, Delta doesn't even begin with the letter "E." It begins with the letter "D." D for Delta. D for "Derrr, we're Philadelphia International Airport, and we have no idea what the hell we're doing."
So, we had to walk from Terminal D to Terminal E. This normally wouldn't have been a huge deal, but A) to get to Terminal E, we were told that we had to walk to it outside, which was a problem because the temperature was hovering around 20 degrees, and B) we were already running late because it took us forever to find a parking spot.
We were pretty fortunate that the airport was empty at this particular time. The garage was full, but that's because everyone had a flight that morning. There was barely anyone at security once Awesome Girl Who Loves Football checked her bags at Terminal E. We hugged and kissed goodbye for a while. I usually hate PDA, but it's different when you're not going to see someone you care about for nearly a month. Besides, hardly anyone was there to see us, and there also happened to be an older couple in their 60s doing the same thing.
Awesome Girl Who Loves Football and I kissed goodbye for a while, but we were about to separate, when this airport employee in her late 20s approached us and shouted, "PDA! PDA! PDA!"
I suddenly realized she was trying to get our attention.
"PDA! Move to da side so da people can go true! Move to da side so people can go true!" she shouted incoherently.
This would have been a reasonable request, but A) we weren't in anyone's way, and B) there were no people there to go "true" anything.
PDA Alert Woman: PDA, you bess be movin' to da side next to da winda.
Me: Thank you!
I said "thank you" sharply and sarcastically. PDA Alert Woman glared angrily at me, while the other employee who had just been standing there, a younger black woman, laughed at my response. This woman was actually sane, so she was probably happy that someone finally stood up to her lunatic coworker.
4. Finding the Parking Garage
Before Awesome Girl Who Loves Football and I parted ways, I pointed out one of the directional signs.
Me: Look, there's a sign for Terminal D. It just says to go down the escalator.
Awesome Girl Who Loves Football: Oh wow. Why'd we have to walk outside then?
Me: I don't know, but that employee has just made Jerks of the Week!
After our final goodbye, I went down the escalator and saw the douche who told us to walk outside. I tried scowling at him, but he didn't look in my direction. I then noticed that I didn't know where the hell I was going. Rather than ask the idiot who led us astray the first time, I approached two employees - a fat woman, wearing a pink headband, sitting on a chair and eating a doughnut, and a tall guy.
Even though I stood there for 30 seconds and said "excuse me," they continued to talk about God knows what. Excuse me for asking for directions. How dare I interrupt their conversation?
The two a**holes eventually acknowledged my presence.
Tall Guy: Whatchu want?
Me: How do I get to Parking Lot D?
Fat Woman: NOM NOM NOM NOM ME LIKE DOUGHNUT NOM NOM NOM NOM.
Tall Guy: You say you in Parkin' Lot E?
Me: Parking Lot D.
Tall Guy: OK, you gone up the escalator, go down the next escalator, go out the door, walk on down to Terminal D, then you gone see a bridge. You gone over the bridge, and then you gone to Parkin' Lot D.
Bridge? What bridge? I didn't cross any sort of bridge to get into the airport. What the hell was going on here?
I thanked him and proceeded to follow his confusing directions. I went up the escalator, down the next escalator, out the door and into the cold, and then to Terminal D. This didn't seem to make sense to me because it just seemed like I was going in a circle. Sure enough, as soon as I walked into Terminal D, I saw the same fat female employee eating her doughnut.
I was beginning to think I wasn't going to make it out of the airport alive, but I tried asking someone else for help. I approached a shady employee with a mustache, but I was desperate at this point.
Me: Hey can you please tell me how to get to Parking Lot D?
Mustachioed Man: Sure. Just go up the escalator, around the corner, across the walkway, down the elevator, and then you'll be there!
Ah, the walkway. I remember crossing a walkway. Was this the bridge the tall guy was talking about? If so, why did he tell me to make a loop before crossing it?
I've been thinking about this, and I've come to realize that airports have hired crackheads to confuse potential terrorists. If someone like myself can't find anything at the airport, how are non-English-speaking a**holes with evil intentions supposed to find their proper flight?
5. Rodney Young
Of course, terrorists aren't the only douche bags who ride planes. There are people with kids who won't shut up, smelly individuals and Fat Russian Clown Ladies.
There are perverts as well. After her flight, Awesome Girl Who Loves Football told me about an encounter she had with an old man who sat next to her on the plane.
He was coming here for some company party, and he was like, "You should come down and show me around town." He winked at me. Then he got really bad and said, "I have a hotel room right downtown so we wouldn't have to do much walking to go back." Then he winked again and gave me his card. He told me his area code is 907.
Some thoughts about this:
1. I normally don't use anyone's real name in Jerks of the Week, but this guy deserves to be exposed. If he had just been nice about it and told my girlfriend that he didn't know anyone in the city and was wondering if she'd give him a tour, that would have been fine. But to insinuate sex upon meeting her the first time is gross. Besides, he's probably married and eagerly willing to step out on his wife, which makes him that much more of a creep.
2. It's time to get a new business card, bud. It's not the 90s when we weren't required to enter an area code when dialing a phone number.
3. What the hell is "Alaska Community Entertainment?" What sort of entertainment could they have in Alaska? Dancing penguins? And why would anyone in the regular 48 states want entertainment from Alaska?
Actually, now that I think about it, dancing penguins sounds pretty awesome. I'll have to give Rodney Young a call. I just hope he doesn't ask to have sex with me.