Airport Man: The Modern Prometheus


By Jeff Malarky

I paid $566,996 to Uncle Sam last year in federal income taxes. I threw in another $95,968 to the dear old governor of New Jersey, $47,438 to my accountant based in Grand Cayman, and $10,000 to my favorite charity, RIM (Raise Income Minimums, which seeks to prevent the movement of low income residents into the few good places left like the Hamptons). With what was left, I barely had enough to put the down payment on my summer place in Tahoe. Carol and I have had to live on the remaining scraps and she has not made that easy.

So, when the company decided that there was networking to be done on a golf course in the South of Spain I couldn’t have been happier. I figured I deserve a break.

Leaving the ball and chain behind, I was eager to pick up my co-worker Sarah. I decided to bring her along so that I could show her how it’s done. The partners think it’s great how well Sarah and I work together, so they figured we should both go. I couldn’t agree more. 

We got lost heading to the airport. I haven’t flown commercial in years but the company jet was elsewhere — the board will definitely be hearing about this.  When we finally got to the airport, we checked our bags and headed towards security. It smelled of what I imagine public school smells like: old socks and desperation mixed with just a hint of Axe body spray. I looked on with glee as the normals in the regular security line watched me glide towards the TSA precheck line. I am Jesus and they are my disciples, eager to learn about the heights they can achieve if they live a virtuous life in a family with good values. 

I tried to enter the security line. I was turned away. The TSA precheck line was closed. I wanted to scream at the minimum wage worker who turned me away. I tried explaining that she didn’t understand. I even tried slipping her a Benjamin. It was no use. I walked away towards the regular line in defeat. I let her keep the $100. I was feeling charitable. 

I entered into the back of what I imagine it looks like when hundreds of bees converge and fight for a place in line to impregnate the queen bee. The smells. The noise. The odd sexual tension. It was all there. 

I couldn’t hear myself think over the sound of a young man arguing with his mother on the phone. I was blinded by a child wearing the brightest neon shirt I had ever seen. I saw a lady breastfeeding. BREASTFEEDING. I was dumbfounded. Doesn’t she have a wet nurse for that? 

I realized that there was much I could provide in this situation. It was like charity in a sense — a chance for those around me to learn from a man of stature.

They are earthlings. I am Prometheus, ready to bring them fire and improve their world.

I told the young man arguing with his mom about the nursing home I put my mother in once she started trying to get money from my father’s will. That should do the trick. I handed the 8-year-old a business card for my tailor. An Italian wool suit and black cap toes will compliment his skin better than that orange Under Armour shirt ever could. The breastfeeding woman proved to be harder to fix, but a Harvard man like myself always finds a way. A few phone calls later, I had found a nice family in the countryside in Maine looking to adopt. 

But I guess I never paid much attention in English class, because nobody ever told me that Prometheus got punished for heroics. 

The peasants revolted. Called me names. Insulted my family. One even touched me. No amount of showering can remove the touch of somebody making under $250,000 per year. It’s the hero’s curse, I guess. 

As I finally make it through security, the thought of the Premier Lounge keeps me going. My lighthouse on a dark and stormy night. 

Every step takes me closer and closer to my reprieve from madness.

It’s closed? 

You mean I have to sit with the people flying coach? 

This can’t be real.  

I’m never flying commercial again. 

  • September 18, 2023