Look around you. People are in trouble.

What kind of hat is that?

Two guys both wearing fedoras. One of ’em, sunglasses perched on the brim, striped polo shirt, big watch, tattoos the length of his right arm, wide leather wristband, he tries to run down gate 69A, but immediately saunters back somewhat downcast. Is he plain luny? That plane boarded some time ago.

He approaches the Continental clerk with his sharp pinkish bony face, gesticulating, complaining. How many times a day does she face guys like this? She, late-middle-aged Filipina, remains calm, face to the monitor, hands on the keyboard. “I can’t do anything about that,” she says.

He jerks his hand backwards as if he’s about to smack her, but he’s pointing his thumb over his shoulder, glowering at her and glowering all around. She doesn’t have to take that. She leaves. He leans his elbows on the counter—takes out his cell phone (that implement of last resort, it has replaced the cigarette of generations past as the accessory to posturing)—makes a call. Or do people in situations like this merely purport to make calls? Are there really all these people on the other end waiting around to take their calls, when the multitudes have these idle moments?

Are they calling one another in airports like this, each of the many thousands of them, milling about big noisy echoey transit centers and waiting rooms across the nation, throughout the states, in the cities, sending out phone calls at random moments that are picked up by others in similar places, or waiting in dental offices, on the street corner, or mom at home? Are they call calling mom? Or their girlfriend, “Girlfriend, you never have anything better to do, girlfriend, they have screwed me over again at the airport, I have missed my flight, again!”? Nations within nations, calling fretfully, to say they missed their flight, again?

They have been abused by the transportation system!

They have missed their connections, they’re gonna have to start the ticketing and boarding process all over!

The man in the fedora with the black band strides off purposefully, still talking (as if), cell phone clapped to his ear.