Where do white people, cheddar cheese, waxing and a noise machine meet? Milwaukee Airport.

16 Jan

I flew out of Milwaukee for the first time Friday morning, and do you know what I learned?

Where was THIS guy? Probably already in Florida.

First, I learned that the Milwaukee airport has a unique population of travelers.

I don’t think I’ve ever stood in line at 6:30am with a whiter, more senior,  more leisure-seeking crowd. And this is including the cruise docks in south Florida.

I wasn’t really paying attention until I noticed the number of people around me publicly clutching their boarding passes and photo IDs. There’s something about that move that smacks of novice. Business travelers have a routine and need their hands free to check email, so they can retrieve key documents in the nick of time, but they aren’t standing in line as if they’re about to undergo immigration.

Once I noticed that detail, I looked up at the faces and was surprised by how, um, WHITE they were. The line was ridiculously long (but fast moving, presumably because of everyone’s diligent preparedness?) so I had a fair population to sample. Using rudimentary physical characteristics, I was only able to easily identify 3 minorities in a line that included at least 100 travelers.

Coming from DC, which really is a melting pot, this struck me as odd. Then I dialed in and realized that most of those pasty faces were paired with white/blue/no hair. Snowbirds, indeed.

Second, I learned a few details about one specific passenger.

Behind me in line were three women in their early forties who were clearly getting away for a girl’s weekend, and they were beyond excited about it. Since they spoke loudly (at a fast clip with a midwestern accent that was more Fargo than Chicago), in the five minutes they were behind me, I learned a few more things.

For starters, one woman is apparently a real jokester. At least, she and her friends think so, but her husband apparently does not. In fact, there is speculation that he doesn’t “get” her sense of humor because he is “anal retentive” and a “real stick in the mud.” (Quotation marks are standing in for the air quotes they used when sharing this information.)

I also learned that someone in that group is hoping NOT for a spa treatment, but a bikini wax, because things have gotten, ahem, unruly. I’m curious to know if any other passengers in the line threw up a little bit of their Starbucks upon learning this detail. I might have, if I had been drinking anything.

I felt close to another discovery about this group, but they happened to look up and realize they were in the wrong line, so they peeled away and went cackling through the airport looking for the other terminal, presumably to bring joy and nausea into the lives of other passengers.

Third, I learned that Milwaukee hasn’t cornered the market on gadgets.

Remember how challenged I was to figure out exactly what the shoe buffer in the bathroom was? Well, apparently gadget knowledge is something of a two-way street, because when I went through security my bag got flagged for additional inspection because something appeared that no one could identify: my white noise machine.

It wasn’t enough to pull it out of the bag and swab it for chemical analysis. “What IS it?” the TSA worker asked. I explained. Incredulous, she said, “So it blocks out noise so you can sleep better?”

I nodded, then offered, “Want me to turn it on so you can hear it?” And the next thing I knew, I was providing a demo of the SleepMate Electro-Mechanical White Noise Machine. Considering it just sounds like static, I thought people would be underwhelmed by it. But no – they were impressed and enthusiastic about it. I’m pretty sure they’ve never seen an iPad.

Fourth, I learned that I would become obese if I lived in Wisconsin.

If you’ve followed my eating habits even loosely, you’ve probably noticed that I like dinner food for breakfast. When I travel, it’s often difficult to find anything that doesn’t involve an egg before 11am, so I was thrilled to find a sausage restaurant in the airport.

(I know, you’ve probably never heard a restaurant categorized specifically as a sausage restaurant, but this really was, because it was Usinger’s, a manufacturer of sausages.)

I ordered the sausage breakfast sandwich (sans egg) and was presented with this:

I wish I'd had the foresight to stick the sausages into the bagel holes for this photo

Don’t get me wrong – I love cheddar as much as the next person. But by my estimation, they shredded an entire 12 oz block of it onto the two halves of this bagel. It makes the sausages (which are supposed to be the feature item) look somewhat, um, inadequate.

Fifth, I learned that the gate agent for the flight to Orlando was named Denise, and that it was her birthday.

I learned this because someone came over the PA and announced it, then asked passengers boarding that flight to embarrass Denise by wishing her a happy birthday. I’m not sure why that would be embarrassing, but OK, at least someone’s having a little fun.

Whew. Now do you understand why traveling takes it out of me? I’ve been busy. Now if only I could get commission for the number of white noise machines I sold, this trip would’ve truly paid for itself.

2 Responses to “Where do white people, cheddar cheese, waxing and a noise machine meet? Milwaukee Airport.”

  1. Alicia January 21, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    I think it sounds charming.

    • pithypants January 22, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

      Charming? I had a lot of adjectives, but that was not one of them. On a different note: I now understand Betty White’s jokes on “Golden Girls” a bit better.

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