Going over the Walt Whitman Memorial bridge, I see a sign that declared, ”Greatness never quits!” I think about that sign, until my father drops my wife and me off at the Philadelphia airport. It’s raining. Greatness, just what does that mean?
We get pushed, shoved, licked, and prodded through security. Make our way to gate E8 and sit in the waiting area. I wonder if any of the people around us will ever achieve greatness: the girl smiling at her phone with the travel pillow, the two older women sitting on the floor playing Mahjong, the couple whispering in each other’s ears, or the guy with the long beard staring at me as I write this. He smiles. If you could only count using your teeth, this guy would be limited to bunches of three.
He is rocking back and forth, glaring at me. I’m getting more concerned. A piece of food is dangling from his beard. I think it’s ham. Other passengers have begun to move away from him. My wife mentions that perhaps we should also move. No. I will not be frightened; Greatness never quits.
He begins licking his lips. Raising an eyebrow in an over exaggeration, he also lifts his left cheek in an awkward half-smile, before making popping sounds, like a child would imagine fish bubbles. This guy is messing with me. He doesn’t want anyone near him and thinks he can scare them. Well, not me. I don’t know who this fool thinks he is dealing with. I stare right back at him. My wife lightly touches my shoulder and whispers that she is moving. It is too weird for her and she thinks I should go. I will not move. I will not be bullied. I will not quit.
This country was founded on men and women that did not quit. People who were great. Men and women who stood up in the face of adversity, whether it was for equal rights, for our freedom, or against an oppressive government. All I have to deal with is one strange guy in the airport.
The inspiring speech I just made in my head falters as he pulls his chair up to mine, his face mere inches away. What have I been thinking? This guy is clearly insane. I should have called for security earlier. There is no way they will let him on the plane. I can already hear my wife telling me how stupid I was for not leaving when she did. That’s ok, greatness never quits. His eyes, the color of moss, stare at me as I smell the sandwich he ate earlier. This is way too close.
The gate agent announces that it is almost time for our flight to begin boarding. The weird guy blinks, pulls out a comb, fixes his hair tosses a jacket and hat on faster than I am able to grab my bag and stand up. The gate agent smiles at the crazy guy.
She nods, “Oh, Jack, I didn’t realize you were the pilot today.”
He replaces the comb to his pocket. “No, Betty, Jesus is the pilot. I just fly the plane.”
Screw greatness. I quit!
Arron Burrows enjoys white wine, light coffee, and dark humor. He is an Army veteran that spends most nights driving his wife crazy with puns. His day life is filled with governmental duties and re-education, though not through some conglomerated government experiment that downloads information straight to his cortex. He would rectify the dismissal of such projects, while distributing cats and donuts to the people who assist him in taking over the world. He promises to be a sensitive overlord that will tell bedtime stories at night, over the radio, to persuade… err, comfort the children of the new world.