Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day Thirty-Eight: 'Deja Vu' Means They've Changed Something

So I go to the airport tonight. Good little old Hobby airport on the south side of town. Most of the time I fly in and out of Hobby. It's smaller, and Southwest only flies there, so it's generally cheaper. Tonight, I'm picking up Sherri, because she's going to be in town so I figure I should at least say hello.

I get to the airport and park in the far corner of the top level of the parking garage. This is not because there were no closer spots; rather, it was a beautiful night out and I wanted to go for a short walk in it. Fantastic weather, a few stars peeking through the clouds, and a good view of both of Houston's skylines from where I parked. It was pleasant.

Then on to Hobby's one terminal and baggage claim. This is the best part of Hobby airport: there's only one exit for all the gates. Everybody comes out at the same place, so there's only one place to wait for them. There are, however, two staircases that lead from the baggage claim area to the one terminal, one on each side. So I walk in the door I'm used to walking in to pick people up, go around the baggage claim area to the left where I know from multiple experiences there is a large, tunneled hallway which leads up some stairs to the terminal above, and....

...wait a second, where's the hallway?

As I draw nearer, I see nothing remotely close to a hallway. All I see is a solid white wall where my memory says that a hallway should be. I stop and double back toward the entrance, wondering if perhaps my memory was faulty. It had, after all, been a year since I'd been to this particular airport. The last three times I had to fly out or pick someone up, they were all from Bush Intercontinental, a.k.a. The Woolly Mammoth of Houston airports, and so my perceptions of this little rinky-dink operation may be faulty through a mixture of memories from other ports.

I decide to check out the "wall" a little more closely and see if perhaps it's a door that leads to a hallway rather than a large cavernous opening as I think I remember. This time I was all the way up to the wall, probably looking very strange to anybody who may have noticed me and silently wondered if I were a terrorist. There were no doors. There was still a turnstile leading from some fictional pathway that was not there into the baggage claim, and I could see no reason for this entrance if there was nowhere to come from, but lo and behold, there was a very solid wall. So solid, in fact, that there were two functioning pay phones mounted on it.

By this point I'm perplexed, but I can tell for certain that there will be no terminal access from this point, so I go all the way around to the other side of the baggage claim, go up the stairs, and find myself on the opposite side of the terminal I'm used to picking people up from. It's at this point that I start to see many tell-tale signs of remodeling--areas roped off, sheets of plastic covering what had been openings, signs instructing you to go other ways than you're accustomed to, that sort of thing. I look just past some ropes and see what I thought was supposed to be my entrance. There's a sign up there now that says "NO BAGGAGE CLAIM ACCESS" and "NOT AN EXIT", and all is confirmed.

Still. It would have been nice to have one of those signs on the lower level, where there was now not only a blocked-off entry way, but a brand-spanking new WALL with two working PHONES!

The sign could have read, "YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. NO LONGER A HALLWAY."