21 December 2014

observations in DTW

It's been a while since I flew through Detroit, it seems. Probably this is because Delt@ doesn't fly to Universe City, so I flew Un1ted for those years, and then I had elite status on Un1ted, and it all snowballed.

I have elite status on no airline at all right now, thanks to having been broke and going nowhere all year. 

DTW used to be my airport. I would fly in here of an evening and pace all 72 gates and have one last US-ian meal and then come back to somewhere in the middle of the terminal, to a big-bellied plane filling with people from the whole world over, heading to Amsterdam. 

When I disembarked from my plane this morning, I caught myself planning to get chai at a particular spot, until I realized that the Bucks of Star of which I was thinking is actually in Chicago-O'Hare. The Bucks of Star is hard to find in DTW (pro tip: down by Gate A61). I had to inspect a map, while thinking to myself, "I can't believe that I need a map in DTW. This is absurd. This is my airport."

I did find the Bucks of Star, and I ended up eating a bag of butter popcorn for either a normal-hour breakfast (DTW time) or a very late night snack (Gone West time). 



One does not take the tram. (We tried once, on our way to Liberia in 2000. We almost missed our flight and got stuck in the doors of the tram. Never again, no matter how much I was lugging, have I tried that tram.)

The large-disc fountain is still doing its water-leaping thing. Kids are still mesmerized. For some reason, though, they have removed the comfy chairs. I am sitting on a folding chair, which is sub-optimal.

Birds are still trapped in the terminal and drinking from the fountain.

They changed the announcement about carrying an item for someone you do not know, just a tad. Also, I haven't heard the announcement that says, "Detroit, Michigan is in the Eastern Time Zone. Please check a clock or a flight monitor for the correct local time" in several languages. This is unfortunate, because I was close to knowing how to say that in multiple languages.

There appears to be a Spanx store visible from my seat.

That underground hallway with the creepy lights and music is as creepy as ever. They even found creepy Christmas music. Why would you let a hallway get almost completely dark while it is filled with travelers pulling luggage and pushing wheelchairs and carrying children? It's creepy.


One time, when I flew through DTW on my way back from Rwanda for Christmas / doing some work here, I found my gate and cast myself upon the ground in a corner to wait for the flight to Greater River City, because it was in the little terminal and there were not enough seats. I ended up talking to the woman sitting on the ground next to me. 

"Where are you coming from?" she asked, in friendly Midwest fashion.

"I live in Rwanda, but I was just on the coast of Kenya," I said, fresh from a delightful week on the beach in Malindi. 

"Oh," she said. "Aren't you scared to live there? Aren't they all terrorists over there?"

I thought about the friendly Muslim Kenyan in the seat next to me on the flight from Malindi to Nairobi, and said, "Nope. I don't worry about that. And if I did, I think that my being friendly and willing to talk about both of our countries does more to prevent terrorism than staying here would."


I am also flying into Hometown. That hasn't happened in years. I can't remember the last time I flew into Hometown, although it may have been that time that there was a girl on the plane who was flying to meet her biological father for the first time (she had been adopted at birth). That was a moment. 

She was so nervous that she spent the whole flight into Hometown telling the person next to her (they were in a row adjacent to mine) about her adoption, and so nervous that when we got to Hometown she went straight to the restroom. 

When I came out to baggage claim, my dad had been talking to the girl's dad, and so he wanted to linger to see the reunion, but then the girl didn't come out with the rest of the passengers. Once I got the story, I was able to tell them that she had indeed been on the flight and would probably only be a moment, and she was.


I remember flying into Hometown, that time when I was coming from Kenya, and recognizing the scene below me: the roads on which I used to drive kids to school when I worked in social services, the lake with the beach we went to in the summer.

Today, I would recognize everything still, but it's been a dozen years since I lived in Hometown. I've forgotten the names of many of the streets and the parks. It's strange how they leave you.

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