In the movies, it’s always the same situation. The softly falling snow dusting the tarmac. The spirited yet obviously exhausted traveler in his/her late twenties or early thirties, helping the old woman in front of them before grabbing their own rolling suitcase from the overhead storage bin. Holiday music is playing as he/she walks away from the gate, bleary-eyed but relatively upbeat. As they reach the security checkpoint, they suddenly hear a squeal and their name being shouted. That’s where family, friends, or a lover is anxiously waiting to envelop them in a hug. Maybe there’s a sign or balloons as well, and yeah. There’s a big sweeping moment when someone jumps into someone else’s arms. Obviously.
It’s sweet and romantic and feels like a warm, cheery moment straight out of Love Actually. Actually, it is a warm, cherry moment straight out of Love Actually. And while it’s one of those times that I truly feel love all around, I just don’t think I’ll ever love anyone enough for that.
You see, from my cynical perspective, there are about three groups of people that you absolutely have to pick up from the airport. Sure, other people will ask, but a simple white lie will get the point across that you don’t like them enough to spend your day hearing about how they only got peanuts as a snack. But when it comes to your significant other, your very best friend, and your immediate family members, you have to take the trek to get them. The only exception to this is if you’re working at the time they land, and even then you’ll be given shit for not using your lunch break to pick them up.
And while I am one to strictly follow these rules, I always chose to circle around the terminals for a good 15-30 minutes, cursing at middle aged moms who cut me off and feeling my rage slowly grow to the point that I resent the person I’m picking up before they even get to my car. Even though I hate every moment of waiting outside and getting yelled at by the cops for stopping and waiting in the area that you’re not supposed to stop and wait at, I have never physically gone into the airport to pick someone up.
It’s not because I don’t love whoever it is I’m there to get. I mean, I’m taking an hour out of my day to drive to the airport, wait for them, make small talk about their trip in the car (Oh man, you got delayed fifteen minutes? Fuckin’ United), and either take them to their hotel or get them setup at my apartment before trying to continue my day without hearing about the slight turbulence they experienced. I obviously love them. The thing is, I just don’t love anyone enough to park my car, walk into the crowded airport, stare at the arrivals screen, wait next to a large family who’s son is coming back from deployment, then scream with joy when I see whoever it is walking through the door five minutes earlier than I would have if I just waited in my car. Then to top it all off, I’d have to pay for short-term parking? Nah. I’m good.
I just, I can’t picture myself doing it.
I feel like there are a few circumstances when it’s acceptable, like the family with the deployed son/daughter/husband/mother. That’s fair. If the person you’re picking up is elderly or has some sort of terminal illness. Maybe if you’re in a long-term relationship and hope to get laid the moment you can find a bed (after that cross-country plane ride though, good luck). Or maybe you’re just a semi-retired parent with a little extra time on your hands who doesn’t mind paying $5 for five extra minutes with your kid. It’s all nice and sweet and I love the idea. But I don’t love it enough to actually do it. Ever. And I don’t love it enough to not judge everyone who comes into the airport to pick up someone. What’s so special about Stacey that she gets a sign, some balloons, and a whole welcome crew? Unless she has Mad Cow (or whatever trendy disease is going around now), I’m not buying it.
Who knows? Maybe once I finally pop an offspring or two out of the ol’ baby maker I’ll feel differently. But until then, be thankful that I’m driving to the airport at all, and meet me at pickup area “G.” I’ll be the person in the dirty car, screaming at the small, deaf woman for not letting me switch lanes. .
Image via Netflix / Love Actually