Waiting in the baggage claim at Copenhagen Airport certainly has its benefits— the benches are fairly comfortable, if rickety, and every so often an airport worker will pass by and ask if I am alright, maybe offer me a granola bar. Of course other passengers come and go, and the track before me stops and starts even now. But once they have all cleared out (which will maybe be ten or fifteen minutes from now) I will still be here, silently waiting as the belt grinds to a surprisingly violent halt. Then it will be just me and the tall blonde woman who inspects the unclaimed baggage. Her method of transport is some strange airport invention— part golf cart, part beast of burden. She looks at the tags on the suitcases of Belt 5 and inexplicably passes each of them over— too new, perhaps, to be taken away? Still, she inspects each bag individually with a concentrated look that suggests she expects this one to bear different fruit. No such luck.
This concentration is also observed in fellow passengers— each bend, to their eager eyes, seems just about to produce their luggage. They approach the belt to inspect suitcases they know can’t be theirs— no stripes, too sharp, too big— with the hopes that their eyes deceived them the first time. The long-suffering passengers in front of me finally locate their bags and rush, relieved, to the exit, leaving me in this windowless purgatory of a place.
Constant and repeating advisements to wear masks at all times, said in both Danish and English, slowly turn the thinking brain into mush and allow the fluorescent lights to turn me slowly crazy. Linoleum tiles made to look like grass boast that I am currently Experiencing with a capital E the Copenhagen bench— tweet your experience now! Another airport worker comes to interrupt my silent contemplation of Denmark’s greenery, looking to stick his head in the ceiling and view the inner workings of this sanctum of travel. Peer into the inner depths of what— in every part of the building that isn’t this room— is probably the modern Scandinavian dream of travel. What is up there, I wonder, and is its vast darkness any different than the profound silence of this football-field sized hall?
Now that everyone has come and gone I remain on my bench, watching Belt 5 turn around and around for three lonely bags. It seems as if they too believe that their long-gone owners will be around the corner this time, like watching traffic lights change for no one but the birds.