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  • Writer's pictureIsaac Estrada

Airport Music - Part 1: Standing on my Truck

My cousin Aidan was flying into town - Seattle, that is - from his summer job in New Mexico, and I was in charge of picking him up.

Now, Aidan is a man of culture - he knows all the Irish songs, he plays guitar and banjo, he's very athletic, he will discuss the highest topics of philosophy and theology with you at the drop of a hat, and he's got his handy flip-phone in rebellion against the dreaded machine designed to turn everyone into brain-dead screen addicts, which is to say, the smart phone. He also has his old, screen-cracked iPhone 6s with a missing "home" button that he uses for maps, photos, and impromptu visits to the family Snapchat group. This is the man I was entrusted to retrieve from the SeaTac International airport.

So there I was, sitting in my idle Chevy Silverado in "arrivals" next to the NO PARKING sign with the voice from above telling me I'm not allowed to sit, wait, or park. I sat there waiting in park for twenty minutes. I had called Aidan a number of times and texted him to no avail, and I was getting frustrated. I looked back at my beautiful Taylor GS Mini in the backseat. With a surge of thumos, and the determination to make the most of the situation and defeat my fears, I freed Taylor from its hard case, climbed onto the roof my truck with it in my arms, and began aggressively strumming it. The weary eyes of travelers which longed to see their rides home turned towards me immediately. I was playing an F major chord, and the next thing I knew, I was singing:

"I hear my train a-coming

its rolling round the bend

and I ain't seen the sunshine since

I don't know when..."

People looked at me and each other in surprise. "What's going on? I imagined them thinking. "What is this strange creature standing on the roof of this truck singing Johnny Cash?" I ignored this thought, and continued on a-singin' and a-strummin'. I played as loudly as I could without straining too much, and I belted as much as I could for singing in such a low register as Cash is well known to do. People began to smile. Phone cameras popped up, and the thought occurred to me that I was about to be in a number of text messages and social media posts. I continued on playing as the roof of my truck caved in beneath my feet. I finished to an applause of a few Johnny Cash effecianatos. I bowed in gratitude, and before I could think too much about it, I was strumming D major and a new set of lyrics projected loudly from my voice:

"Well she was an American Girl.."

This was a success. A crowd of newly-landed travelers exited the building to the sight of me - a brown- and messy-haired young man in a grey T-shirt standing on a grey Chevy Silverado belting out Tom Petty's American Girl. People cheered and more phone cameras came into view. Cars driving by honked their horns and passengers cheered and shouted out the windows at me. I also played Bob Dylan's Tangled Up in Blue, Led Zeppelin's Over the Hills and Far Away, and Jack Johnson's Banana Pancakes. After this, I figured it was time for me to check my phone and see if Aidan called. I just missed him. I immediately called him back, giving my business card and bowing to a particularly grateful audience member who was mounting his steed as I did so. Aidan picked up.

"Where are you?" he said, patiently but eagerly.

"I didn't see you anywhere," I replied, "and now I'm at international arrivals! I'm standing on my truck, singing songs."

Aidan laughed out loud. "Dude, I'm singing songs where I am too!"

I laughed too. "Well, come over and join me!" I urged him.

I hung up and started playing again, and by the time I was finished with Mary Jane's Last Dance by Tom Petty, I could see Aidan strolling forward with his banjo in its case swung around his shoulder and a suitcase dragging behind him. He jumped aboard and we both stood on the edge of the truck's roof where it's sturdier above the frame. This solved the issue of the sinking roof. Aidan in his proficiency with Irish and American folk songs led us in Tell Me Ma, Fields of Athenry, The Wild Rover, Leave Her Johnny, and You Are My Sunshine. There were more people than ever honking horns, cheering, filming, and observing as we belted out folk songs from the top of my truck. There was a girl who seemed approximately our age who was filming us, and I wanted to run after her and get her number under the guise of asking for the video she took, and but Aidan had me pinned down as we tried to figure out one of the songs we were trying. Next time, I'll have the nerve.

When we agreed it was time to go, we greeted each other with a hug and drove off. It's so exciting to think that had Aidan owned a perfectly functional cell phone, and had we experienced no communication breakdowns* throughout the process of picking him up, we wouldn't have brightened up people's evening with some impromptu truck-roof airport busking.

It's funny how things happen.

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18 ago 2022

Thank you for brightening our evening and welcoming us back to the US! We were hot and tired and it was a joy (and kind of unusual) to hear something familiar outside of the International Arrivals at SeaTac. I'm glad your cousin still has a flip-phone!

(Better luck next time!)

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