The day started with the screech of tyres. I was walking from the staff car park, as the miserable Staff Bus has become utterly useless since the hopelessly soggy attempts at Terrorism last month. As I crossed the road a car approached me, much too fast for the 20mph speed limit in force within the staff car park. The driver applied the breaks furiously as I appeared before him, his headlights obscuring the hand gestures he threw in my direction. I carried on walking as the car, a rather lady-like blue Fiat, pulled out of the junction. Again the screech of tires and a loud, sharp crash. He had pulled out in front of someone, causing them to drive, again too fast, into the side of his car. Both men leapt from their driver's seats to hurl abuse at each other. I ran, fearing blame, or worse, that I would get pulled into the tussle as a "witness". I crouched over, military style, and scurried - the crasher and crashee's views obstructed by a row of parked cars. This is the terrible truth of the airport car park. Fatigued people, driving too fast, eyes hooded and sagging - the tar-mac is specked with broken headlights, the curbs littered with wing-mirrors. I wait to see the crows picking at a human corpse, comedy tyre marks flattening the torso.
This was merely the opening of a strange day filled with aggression. I arrived at work and was promptly verbally abused by a member of First Choice Holidays' cabin crew. I was pushing a cage, filled with rubbish from my company's bins, towards the service corridor. Over by the wall was an old lady in a wheelchair, waiting patiently as her bag was retrieved from the conveyor belt. I carefully pushed the cage past her, only to be pushed aside by the vicious Space Mattress. She was wearing a pink uniform, giving her face an angry radioactive glow.
"Out the way," she shouted as I collided with the wall. Still she couldn't get past, and began screaming at the old woman in the wheelchair. The driver of the wheelchair was stunned.
"Move it," the Sky-Whore shouted. The driver, an aging man with a high-visibility vest and a paunch, shouted back:
"You move it."
By this time the Jet-Slag had pushed past, jamming me further into the wall, but she turned back for more witty banter.
"No, you move it," she shouted. And the response:
"You move it."
I used this opportunity to make my escape, but I could still hear the Airline-A-Hole and the Wheelchair Man deep in the ludicrous posturing of the argument. The old lady remained unfazed, as if she didn't notice the vulgarity.
Later, I was approached by a Hell's Angel. I knew this as he was wearing a polo-shirt with an embroidered badge: Hell's Angels, New York Chapter. He held aloft a cheap paperback, it too entitled Hell's Angels (It wasn't Hunter S Thompson's fabulous book, but one with a strangely posed photo and a sensational subtitle such as Inside The Crime Empire).
"Bullshit," the Hell's Angel shouted to me, holding the book in my face. His voice was surprisingly nasal.
"I'm sorry?" I asked.
"This book is bullshit," he explained. "The day's of raping and pillaging are far behind us."
I smiled politely, examining the flaming skulls tattooed on the man's arms.
He then muttered something that I heard to be, "It's not for want of getting raped."
"Pardon," I said, polite Brit to the end. He merely winked and grinned, huge and gap toothed. He then sauntered off, jamming the paperback in the back pocket of his faded jeans.
Nearly five years since I began work at the airport, and I can still have a surprising day like this...