Nothing to declare.

An airport at 12AM is a different sort of place. Everything seems less important - which is to say, about as important as an airport should be. The loudest sound you hear is the electric whirr of the carts, driven by custodians going a bit faster than usual, putting just a touch more swing into their turns. They're smiling. A group of flight attendants go down the hall, and one of them hip-checks their friend into the moving walkway. They're smiling, too. A child is crying, but only because it's past her bedtime. Her mother isn't frantic, and quietly and lovingly comforts her uncomfortable child. They're not smiling, but nobody's scowling, either.

In the dead quiet of the boarding gate, a man has an argument with a WestJet employee. He wants to yell, but the calmness muffles him. He only had three drinks, he says. Three drinks which WestJet sold him, he points out. All he did was say something that he didn't even mean, and now he's kicked off his flight home. The WestJet clerk shakes her head sadly and says that she can't overrule the flight attendant's decision. But he only had three drinks, he points out. Another two employees appear behind the counter as she repeats her position. Robbed of rage's righteousness, the man slinks off. Perhaps he'll need to stop at the bar before he works up the strength to phone his wife and explain what happened. In the dead of night, the whole scene plays out with sadness, but here too, as with everything else, all remains in the warm, familiar domain of humanity.

The best flights are always those you don't have to take. The real trick comes in remembering that there are never any flights you have to take.

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About The Author

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.