I've been to the Pittsburgh airport exactly once. It is a city I don't visit often, and also one located an awkward distance from my home, putting the time of flying there on par with that of driving. Still, despite this being my first visit to PIT, the familiar commonalities of airports made it feel as though I'd been there a hundred times before. On this particular day, I was passing through the complex early in the afternoon before the commuter rush began. Handfuls of travelers stepped casually onto the people movers here and there, but the stream of activity was nothing like it would be after 6:00pm. Throughout the concourse, the lingering scent of industrial carpet cleaner mixed with an obnoxious cloud of air freshener until, thankfully, I came upon a Starbucks that helped redirect my senses to the aromatic beauty of dark roasted beans and the whirring of coffee grinders.
I sat at a corner high top in Starbucks waiting as my boarding time approached. With some time to spare, I grabbed my bag and began making my way toward the gate - the wheels of my roller adding to the cacophony of footsteps, cell phone conversations, and over-the-air announcements of gate changes, standby status, and traveler alerts. The number of people throughout the concourse had grown, yet over the din of their chatter, the evening news permeated. In a year dominated by American politics, a constant stream of commentary on the subject has seemed inescapable. Earlier in the week, Matt Lauer of the "Today" show, moderated a live forum between U.S. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Most would agree Mr. Lauer's performance was less than stunning, but as I walked from gate to gate, every television throughout the terminal seemed to be eviscerating poor Matt at the highest volume. He was steamrolled by Trump, reporters were saying, and unfairly harsh with Clinton, apparently to the point of demonstrating complete bias. "Whatever..." I thought. "Just another day in this crazy race we've come to konw as the Presidential campaign."
Sitting at my departure gate, I tuned out the news and looked across the terminal at those sitting along the benches of the opposite gate. Catching glances of strangers, destined for Fort Lauderdale (or Fort Worth... or something...) I waited for my flight to Albany while streams of people passed between us. Ones, pairs, families; the travelers through the Pittsburgh airport on this, and only this, day. It seems most everyone prefers to stay in their own little world, amidst the noise of the intercom and deep into the glow of their smartphones, but I couldn't keep from wondering as I looked around, how many missed connections happen in a day like this?
My fascination with airports stems from the temporal nature of our interactions in these spaces. In airports, the collisions of our lives with one another happen only for the briefest of periods. All of us, individually, passing through any given airport on any given day, in combinations never to be naturally duplicated again. What are the chances, then, of finding someone again after we leave?
After capturing these images, I searched through the "Missed Connections" section of the Pittsburgh Craigslist looking for personal ads that included the string "PIT." Some of the results are presented here as complements to the candid images taken on September 8, 2016 when I passed through the Pittsburgh airport.
Footnotes: All images, Fujifilm X70 with fixed Fujinon 18.5mm f/2.8 / All quotes extracted from anonymously posted personal ads filed under the "Missed Connections" section of the Pittsburgh Craigslist.