It is almost like getting stuck in one of the original Grimm Brothers' fairy tales.
Well, maybe the bowdlerized American versions where things turn out well in the end. But you are still stuck.
I am in the Los Angeles airport once again. It has long been one of my favorite stops because it means that I will be home in Mexico in about three hours. But the airport itself has its own charms. Bustling. Crowded. Efficient. Creative. All of the virtues I enjoy in traveling.
If you have been tracking my five trips north to Oregon since August, you already know that the Los Angeles airport has not been "bustling" and "crowded" on any of my trips. I expected they would be back in force n this Sunday after Thanksgiving -- traditionally, one of the busiest flying days of the year.
I was wrong. There are a few more passengers in the terminal, but check-in took only five minutes and getting through security even less. I was once again the only person in the security area -- at 8:30 a.m. on what should have been near-record numbers of passengers. The waiting areas at the gates have a few more people than usual. But "crowded" it is not.
That is why I was surprised to see the Alaska Board Room was about at half-capacity. That is a mob compared to my past flights when the place was nearly empty. The gangs of children were a perfect harbinger that Thanksgiving had just passed.
California is in the midst of a resurgence of the virus. A big resurgence. To de-plane at the airport, I had to complete an on-line form acknowledging that I understood the state's restrictions (none of us had any idea what they were) and verify that I would at least give a passing thought to quarantining for 14-days.
All of us in my area of the airplane had a good laugh because we were all spending just one night at an airport hotel and then flying off to our various destinations -- most to Mexico. Good theater is based on the premise of shared good intentions coming into contact with The Absurd.
Some travelers showed their own disdain for the governor-imposed restrictions. There is an area in the terminal that combines a Wolfgang Puck cafeteria, a bar, and a pizza joint. The common tables and chairs have been taped off with "closed" signs on the tables on my previous trips.
The bar patrons had grabbed their drinks and deemed that it was not appropriate to stand while drinking. So they broke through the tape, tore the signs off of the tables, and unstacked the chairs to create their own sitting area. Maybe they were conducting their own scientific study to determine if drunks cannot catch the virus. The action was less pitchfork-and-torches, than it was merely juvenile.
Apparently, no one enforces the restriction because wave after wave of alcohol-wielding passengers took up the place of the study members who moved on. And here there is a lesson. Unless government is willing to enforce restrictions on personal liberty with authoritarian efficiency, there is little sense in imposing the restriction. And that, of course, creates its own problems.
I am a bit disappointed that people do not show a bit more responsibility for their own health. Lacking that concern, it is philosophically impossible to care about the health of others.
But, before I start a debate that I have no intention of being part of, I will close.
In about an hour I will board my flight home. And I will say good-bye to the vagaries of this airport until late December.
The story never ends. At least, not with a Disney tag-line.