When you’re at an airport, men are everywhere. At Heathrow Airport in London, one of the busiest airports in the world, it is estimated that over 56% of passengers are men which I think is quite low just based upon casual observation. However, men are elsewhere throughput the facility. Men make up over 90% of pilots and over 75% of air traffic controllers. Of the remaining occupations at airports and for airlines, 66% of the work force are men. Men pretty much dominate the airline industry with the exception of flight attendants which we will cover another time. The point is when you are in an airport you are engulfed in a male environment from the minute you walk through the front doors to when you eventually reach your final destination.
With all the men running around the airport, it may seem difficult to categorize them into groups based on certain characteristics alone. However, the group being discussed in this post, will now and forever be known as the “Dudes” since they are easily identifiable and can be seen in airports around the world. Dudes are a specialized group of men who we’ve all encountered at one time or another and some of us may have even taken on their persona over the years. They are brash, unencumbered and come to airport on a mission to put their Y chromosomes promptly on display.
Dudes at the airport are usually meeting up with other dudes to go do dude related things at dude-like locations. They head to bachelor parties in Vegas or hunting trips in Alberta. They go on guy’s weekends in New Orleans and fraternity reunions in College Station. One of the more common reasons for dudes to grace the airport scene is the pilgrimage to support some sports team outside of their home turf. The Super Bowl, NCAA tournament, and NASCAR Races all attract hordes of dudes, every one of them needing to be transported one way or another.
Dudes have characteristics that are unmatched by just about every other group of individuals. They gawk openly at young girls, sexually harass flight attendants and bartenders and usually make at least one reference to the mile-high club. Their favorite clothing is fan gear coupled with larger than average tennis shoes, ankle socks, cargo shorts and baseball caps. They are loud obnoxious and pretty much loathed by everyone else in the terminal. If you happen to be in their proximity, listen closely and you will probably hear the words “douche bags” muttered under the breath of those who are situated closest to them. Most of the time, dudes can be found at the bar nearest to their gate, downing domestic beers and telling lies that the rest of the group have probably heard a hundred times before.
On an individual level, these are probably decent humans who are upstanding citizens, admired by their families and work hard in their occupations. However, once they meet up with even another member of their tribe, the dude mentality takes over and they are transformed into ape-like beings losing all sense of decency and self-control. Dudes can be further categorized into those who are married and those who are not. Most of what I am describing leans towards the married type since they seem to use these little getaways as a means of escape from their everyday domesticated lives. Their left hands are permanently imprinted by the wedding bands in their pockets thinking that somehow their perceived availability would distract women from their beer guts, ill fitted clothing and receding hairlines. Married dudes usually soak up the airport Wi-Fi looking for the closest Hooters or strip club to their hotels. These are the guys that give the married world a bad name yet somehow get away with their antics time and time again. Some people would feel sorry for their poor wives waiting at home, yet I’m certain they themselves take these opportunities to relax, draw a bubble bath and look up old boyfriends on Facebook while fantasizing about what could have been.
In some ways, dudes need to be celebrated since they do add an air of excitement to the otherwise run-a-day routine of an airport. If you not easily offended (or female) their jokes can be funny and they do sometimes accept new members into their group even temporarily while waiting at the gate or on the flight itself. Dudes are never shy about conversing with others in the terminal which is a refreshing change since most passengers are absorbed into their laptops or smart phones. The dudes bring us back to a time when meeting new people did not include a screen swipe or friend request. For this we should thank the dudes, or at least forget one or more of their transgressions which are inevitably going to happen.
Dudes go forth and enjoy the things that make you happy. We will watch, laugh and be entertained while waiting to take our turns in the skies. It’s those like the dudes which make the ever growing airport society interesting and keep those like me coming back for more. I’ll close with a simple phrase from Jeff Bridges in the cult-classic, The Big Lebowski: The Dude Abides….The Dude Abides!