Monday, July 24, 2006

Summer of '76

The first real job I ever had was at the Philadelphia International Airport in 1976. My dad worked for Eastern Airlines, and he basically got me the job. I worked in the gift shop on concourse B. The shops were run by Aero, which was a subsidiary of ARA. They had a contract with the city to run the shops and the food service in the airport. This was back in the day when airports didn't look like shopping malls or food courts. There was limited choice when you travelled.

It was the bicentennial summer, and we had to wear these ugly red, white and blue nylon smocks. It was actually a great job for a seventeen-year old. It was so much better than working at Burger King or something. This girl was a child of the suburbs, and the airport was a dynamic place with all manner of fascinating people.

Obviously, airport security was a joke back in 1976. In other words, there wasn't much security at all. There were a few homeless people that pretty much lived there. One little old man was known as "Birdman" because he was always whistling. He usually slept across the terminal chairs at night.

And whatever happened to the Hare Krishna freaks? We used to have so much fun tormenting them. I remember a customer rushed into the gift shop one day and was just pacing around. I asked him if he was looking for something. He said that he was trying to avoid a Hare Krishna guy (who was standing outside the door looking in). They used to have these books that they would hand to people to look at, and then shake them down for a contribution. The implication was, if you don't donate, you give the book back. Well, this customer took the book, didn't donate, and came into the shop before the Krishna could stop him. The Krishna's weren't allowed to set foot in the shops. So there was this angry guy outside the shop waiting for my customer to come back out. My customer looked at him, handed me the book and said "Here, you keep it". I looked up at the Krishna guy and made a point of dropping it into my trash can where he could see it. Oh well..... get a real job, loser. He turned a few pretty shades of red over that. When did the Krishna's disappear from airports anyway? That's one positive thing about air travel in this century.

It was really a fun job. Our shop had two cashiers, and my partner was Linda Takacs. We owned concourse B! Linda was a couple years older than me, but damn, we had some fun. Whatever happened to Linda? And we always had a lot of laughs with the stockboys.... John Franzini, Dennis Hardy, John Hardy, Bill Coughlin, and the boy who would become my husband a few years later, Jim. And 30 years later, we are still together. Who says that summer romance doesn't last?

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