• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates •
Past the international baggage claim, an unused security area in Houston’s George Bush International airport looked outrageously big — its gaping confines made larger by an impossibly tall ceiling that felt as though clouds could form inside.
I’d been through this airport many times, and now I wondered: had it always been so cavernous?
Without foot traffic to create its normal humming soundtrack, each step seemed to resonate as I walked through this bizarre expanse. The voices of a single employee and a single other traveler bounced off the lofty metal beams and echoed throughout the chamber.
As I walked in their direction, I didn’t bother to get closer than 50 feet away.
“Am I going out this way for connecting flights?” I asked in a normal speaking voice, yelling being completely unnecessary, as I pointed toward automatic doors. My instincts had been dumbed by the lack of the typical stream of moving bodies.
The airport worker answered in the affirmative, and as she did, the only other passenger in this yawning space breezed past me.
“We’re going to terminal C,” she said. “Let’s go.”
We were two commuting strangers, suddenly linked together as human explorers in a dystopian future not unlike scenes from movies about the end-of-the-world.