Looking for Holiday Cheer at the Airport Starbucks

When you are in a bad mood, there is nothing worse than cheery people. And when you are in a bad mood on Christmas, at the airport no less, there are cheery people everywhere. There is the barista at the airport Starbucks, dressed in an ugly Christmas sweater, who says things like this when he hands you your Gingerbread Latte: “Merry Christmas ma’am. Hope Santa brings you something nice. Besides this awesome caffeinated beverage, of course.”

First off, don’t call me ma’am. I may look over the age of 35, but let me continue to live the lie that I am still in my twenties.

Second off, this beverage may be caffeinated, but calling it ‘awesome’ may be going too far. And I desperately need it since I had to wake up at 4 am to make my flight and I don’t even normally drink coffee.

Third, do you have to force your holiday cheer on me? Can’t you see I am feeling rather Scrougish today? After all, I am stuck here in travel purgatory at the Phoenix airport for FIVE hours, my least favorite airport in the country after last year’s holiday experience, when I got stuck here overnight with half my family suffering from Montezuma’s Revenge because the customs and TSA lines were so unbelievably long we could not make our connecting flight. Bah humbug!

So far on this trip, I have killed only one hour out of five – I perused the tabloids, got caught up on Brad and Angelina’s divorce drama (Brad doesn’t get the kids for Christmas!), bought a soggy $14 turkey sandwhich that was worth about $3, found a Christmas present for my mother (chalk that one up for holiday spirit!), tried to change our flight to Mexico to an earlier flight. Response: “Sorry, ma’am, you have checked a bag and your bag must travel with you for all international flights.”

What I wanted to say: “But you usually lose my bag anyways. And if you think by calling me ma’am you are making this situation better, you got another thing coming.”

Four hours left to go. Grrrrr.

What really sets me over the edge is when I spot a woman wearing a tacky Christmas headband, the kind with little fake Christmas presents perched atop her head, along with red and green rhinestone cat-eye sunglasses. I want to slap her with a twig of mistletoe.

I am still fuming when two women in their twenties walk by wearing red reindeer headbands. For a split second I think they are Playboy bunny ears, so I am actually slightly relieved when I realize they are just antlers.

But what really takes the cake is when Santa and his Elf come breezing through the terminal, a group of small children following them like they are the Pied Piper, including my 6 year old, who are beside themselves with glee that Santa has decided to make an appearance at the Phoenix airport, the one place I would think Santa would most definitely want to skip.

I assumed that Santa would be handing out small gifts for the kids – you know, key chains with sayings like,”God lives everywhere, but He vacations in Arizona.” But instead of a big red velvet bag, Santa is only carrying a black JanSport backpack, and instead of gathering children around him, he is rushing toward gate B26. Oh my god, he is going to Mexico! In a thick red velvet suit! On the flight I wanted to be on!

What makes normally sane people completely lose their minds over the holidays? What makes sensible people feel compelled to put on every red and green piece of clothing they own and sport ridiculous accessories that would normally get them laughed out of the room?

I think it must be something in the Eggnog Latte.

For a moment I think about going back to Starbucks to see if I can find holiday cheer at the bottom of an Eggnog Latte when behind me I hear: “Excuse me ma’am, are you in line?”

I turn around to find a young man dressed in one of those ugly Christmas sweater suits that looks like a Christmas card exploded on his clothes. He is smiling at me.

I grit my teeth. “Nope. And I hear the Christmas Cookie Latte is to die for.”

What finally puts me in a better mood is when I see a frazzled young mother scoop up her toddler (dressed in red and white striped pajamas, no less) when she notices his pacifier is still on the ground. She stares at it for a moment, and I can see the wheels turning in her head. Finally, she stands straight up, the toddler on her hip, and proceeds to kick the pacifier across the dirty airport carpet all the way back to her seat. It takes about three good kicks. A minute later, the little boy comes toddling back, the pacifier in his mouth.

At last, I think, someone not striving for Christmas perfection. Silently I whisper to her across the plastic seats at Gate B26, “Thank you, ma’am.”



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