Monday, February 20, 2017


The other day I had to go to Newark airport which I hadn't been to in a few years. It was the United terminal, which I'm very familiar with having been in it many times since it was built. After parking you go in through the ground floor past the baggage claim area and up a short escalator to the second floor where you can check bags or get your ticket if need be and then there's two escalators going up to the next level where the gates are.

I'm used to going right up to the gate level, but there was a security guard at the bottom of the escalator on the second floor, and those devices they use for forming lines, with over a hundred people snaking through them, and then beyond that hundreds more people on a more or less straight line going all the way to the other end of the terminal, the length of a few city blocks. That's the one we had to go to the end of, but I noticed the second escalator going up to the gate level had two security guards and no line, so I busted my way through and went over to ask why.

The unpopulated line was for "premier customers"—maybe a term for first class and business class, or maybe for frequent flyers or something else, I didn't ask, I just got the visual and visceral reality of a two tiered system where if you're in the top category you breeze right through with no hassle, but if you're in the lower one, you're stuck on an endless line that represented not even 98 or 99 percent of the flyers at that moment but more like 99.9 percent or even more.

It seemed like a perfect metaphor, or maybe I mean example, of the ongoing and continually growing inequality of our society. Time to either make just one line, or if more, make them all equal.

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