Columns » Penny Post by Andrei Codrescu

Vampires at the Airport


They are there. I've seen them. I can spot them. There is one right now, at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, a little middle-aged man with a goatee. His eyes roam greedily over the crowd, scanning phone banks, airline gates and walls. It's the walls he cares about. The little man spots it. His eyes light up. He takes a few determined steps forward, then a leap, and then he's there. He crouches, he grins, he opens his shoulder bag and out comes his vampire cord. He plugs it in. He plops down on his knees before his bag and takes out: 1) his laptop, 2) his cell phone. He turns them on. They begin to glow. He closes his eyes. Silence! The vampire is feeding.

He is not alone long. A chestnut-haired brisk young woman approaches swiftly. She nods curtly, drops down next to her goateed colleague, and pulls her own vampire cord out of her case. She plugs it in below the other's cord. Then she sits down in a perfect lotus and pulls out her cell phone, her laptop, her ear phones and her Palm.

This is it for this particular feeding station. There are only two outlets. A number of roaming vampires pass, disappointed. They have gotten here too late. There are other feeding stations here, but they are rare and far between. Vampires sometimes travel the breadth and length of a huge airport before they find a place to feed. I know. I'm one of them.

At Portland International, an inconsiderate vampire is using two outlets for a number of devices. He is watching a DVD on his screen, eyes closed, juice flowing through him, oblivious to the world. I curse him, I move on. Finally, I spot an outlet under a dangerous looking sculpture of something vaguely aeronautic. I leap to it, my cord is out in a flash, I'm in. I check the glow light on my laptop. It's not on. Egads! It's a dead station! I look around, momentarily disoriented by the sudden drop in my blood sugar levels. I see a grinning vampire watch me. He knew! He had tried it and failed and he is now delighting in my pain. I pull my cord out roughly. I resume roaming, but not before giving my mean co-creature an evil look. You'd think that being in the same boat would make us compassionate. Not at all. We are fierce hunters, individualistic, hungry beasts of the computer age. We don't share the juice.

It is not until Seattle, the third leg of my trip, that I am able to feed. The moment I plug in I can feel it. The sweet juice flowing into my chips. The hum of the communicator coming to life. I dial a far-away place and the juice lets me hear the sweet voice on the other end. The icons light up on my desktop. I rejoin the sphere of the global network. Vampires pass by, hungry, needy, jealous. Let them pass. I will not share.

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