Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mr. Airport Hustle

I have been to a fair number of airports over the years. Each airport has its own advantages and disadvantages. Take JFK in New York, for example. One of its advantages is that you can get direct flights to and from most places. One of its disadvantages is that, if you take delays into consideration, a direct flight from JFK will not necessarily get you to your destination faster than a connecting flight.

JFK is one of these airports that charges you to use a luggage cart. I don't have a problem with that. The system, as implemented at JFK, however, has a significant design flaw: there is no incentive to return the cart to the cart-stand. Some airports give you money back when you return the cart, but JFK does not. The result is parking lots full of abandoned carts.

Mr. Airport Hustle

Enter enterprising New Yorkers. At the airport today we saw this guy collecting a few carts from the parking lot and bringing them back to the cart-stand. Only he didn't return them. He stationed himself in front of the stand, intercepting tourists and selling his carts. Mr. Airport Hustle was pocketing $3 per cart.

Shouldn't you be working?

When Mr. Airport Hustle's cart supply was running low, he found a friend with airport credentials to sell his carts while he corral more of them. That added an air of legitimacy that seemed to attract the locals as well as the tourists.

It got interesting when one man didn't want to pay Mr. Airport Hustle. I couldn't tell if the man was insisting on putting his money into the machine to retrieve a cart or if he was trying to negotiate a better price with the Mr. Airport Hustle.

Whatever it was, it set Mr. Airport Hustle off. He started muttering to himself like a profane cartoon character. "Who the fuck does he think I am, mother fucker. He ain't getting no cart for $3. Fuck that mother fucker." It was a shocking transformation, and one that made me want to call airport security.

1 comment:

ettible said...

I really wish you would've told me this story in person just so to be able to hear you say, "Who the fuck does he think I am, mother fucker. He ain't getting no cart for $3. Fuck that mother fucker."

JFK really doesn't offer you anything for returning your cart? That was the most enjoyable part of that Tom Hanks movie The Terminal.