The airport in Birmingham, AL, that I fly in and out of, just got a facelift, part of a national effort to update some US airports. Half of it was closed for a major renovation, which was completed last Spring, and now the other half is closed and being ripped apart so that it too can be reinvented. The new terminal is spacious and bright, with new vendors and electrical outlets at many of the seats, and easy listening music playing throughout.
And Morgan Freeman talks to you every few minutes.
Word on the street (and, according to my own ear) is that he’s the one who tells you, in that silky smooth voice, not to forget your bags and to report any suspicious activity to the nearest TSA agent. In fact, it is so smooth and mellow that, whenever you hear it, it’s tough to get too excited about the level of intrusion that we’ve all come to take for granted at airports — like the time I not only had to take off my shoes and remove my belt but was then instructed to hook my two thumbs in the front belt loops of my now loose pants, and energetically shake them up and down to satisfy a security agent, intently staring at my crotch, that I wasn’t…, wasn’t…, actually, who knows what that was all about. If nothing else, it was at least an indication that I was no longer in control of my self, that I was now subject to their virtually unlimited interest and scrutiny, and that they could escalate it at any moment, for any reason. Or end it, without ever explaining why.
While waiting at the airport for Monica Miller, another member of Culture on the Edge, to arrive the other day, to deliver an inaugural memorial lecture in memory of one of our past students, I listened to Morgan Freeman again, and wondered what we’d all make of our flying experience if a different actor had been selected…
Come to think of it, there’s an honesty to the anger — real scary shit might happen, people, and for sure you’re gonna lose control over the self you take for granted most days, so be prepared for it (pardon the language, but we’re all adults here, right?) — whereas the calm, pre-recorded message from Morgan Freeman sweetly tells us to fret, yes, but not too much.
Everything’ll be fine.
Have a nice day.