What Do Stupid People Do?

I arrived in Chicago at concourse C.

IMG_0128 1Don?t think I hadn?t prepared for this. My flight to Montana was in an hour, so since I was in seat 36F, the last person on the flight and the last to get off, I checked the airport map in the inflight magazine. It showed United gates around what appeared to be a large island, labeled ?C.?

It showed little blue dots I took to be a shuttle bus trail to other terminals, including one labeled ?F.?

I found the departures board and found my connecting flight and its corresponding gate number ?F1C.?

I pulled up a map on my iphone. I saw concourses label 1-5.

No solid clues.

But I had a feeling I should be following the blue dots to ?F.?

I looked for signage and started following the F arrows expecting a bus or train station like the one I?d gone through to get to my flight earlier in the morning at Dulles International outside D.C.

But after a dark but creatively lit tunnel with walkways, and about seven miles of shiny floors and impenetrable lines into women?s restrooms, I sought help from a United gate attendant.

She pointed the direction I had been heading. ?That?s concourse two,? she said, holding up two fingers.

What about my gate number indicated that?

I repeated: ?F1C is on concourse two??

Yes, she said pointing, go there and take a right.

I walked another half-mile.

Soon I saw signs to concourse 2 gates F1D-Fsomething else.

I started feeling really old. How did I have blisters on my feet already?

I stopped to study the sign.

At the bottom of Dreiser-length paragraph I spotted a clue:

F1C with an arrow to the left.

I was finally getting warm.

My flight was to Missoula, Montana.

When I saw a woman with a dark purple fleece jacket dripping from her backpack, her braid fuzzy, wearing socks with her sandals, I knew I had arrived.

And there was a woman wearing an L.L. Bean shirt with horizontal stripes, the man she was with wearing a barn coat.

I noticed another woman wearing carpenter jeans?you know the kind with the strap from back pocket to sideseam to carry your hammer?or icepick?

I spotted an electrical outlet, grabbed a seat and opened my laptop.

A young woman with her long hair roped into a clumsy ponytail ? just like mine — sat down next to me at the computer table, tossed her tweed jacket on the counter and unabashedly pulled out a whole-wheat sandwich from a zip-lock bag.

Another woman seated nearby held a baby that was not crying.

And a sure sign I?d found my gate: a short woman with boot cut too-long jeans, with the bottoms of her cowboy boots sticking out the top of her backpack. She dropped her things against a window and watched the activity outside.

I am the only one using an electronic device.

And when I got to Missoula I knew I?d arrived: In the women?s restroom people were leaving their luggage all over the place, but certainly not taking it into the stalls with them.

By Maile

Maile Field is a writer living in Northern California. Born in Hawaii and raised in Montana, she earned her master of fine arts in nonfiction at George Mason University in Virginia. She encourages constructive criticism.