The other day I had this great idea for a character. I had to pick my dad up at SFO and his flight was delayed. I'm stuck there in United terminal #81 pacing back and forth like some animal on display. There is very little to look at in the area. I think the airport folks do this intentionally to force you to go buy some overpriced paperback or glossy magazine.
The other options available to me during my unexpected wait are people watching, which can be dangerous if you happen to accidentally lock eyes with some freak who's got eight sticks of dynamite strapped to his chest because management had the audacity to fire him. No one appreciated the finesse he display in pushing scuffed luggage onto the steel segmented baggage claim turnstyles.
But I digress.
People watching is pretty much out. I'm standing next to the currency exchange "wagon", which is more like a cross between a bank and the Popemobile. Why this vehicle is parked outside a United flight coming in from Chicago I'll never know.
So after memorizing the various currency exchange rates I notice it. It's a big white tube with wings. It looks like God's Tic Tac. I feel myself drawn to this angelic object, like it's the monolith from the movie 2001. As I get closer I realize it's metal. It has some big black text stenciled on it:
Do not open until Jan 1, 2000
Sealed on Nov 19, 1958
Wow. It's a time capsule.
Turns out the folks at United, back in 1958 anyway, decided to celebrate the opening of their brand spankin' new "Jet" terminal (jet airplanes... oooo... ahh...) by creating a time capsule. Nice going 1958! How come you never hear about that kind of stuff happening nowadays? I mean, I get jazzed if I can find last week's Bay Guardian let alone some amazing artifact from the not-too-distant past. Remember that Looney Tunes where the guy finds the singing and dancing frog? See, they were into that kinda stuff back then. We're such the disposable culture now.
Anyhoo, it got me thinking. I wanted to steal that time capsule, throw it in my trunk (ok, so it'd need a pickup) drive it home and crack that bad boy open! See what goodies those hip happenin' people from the 50s left us. It was like a kleptomaniac's Christmas. Which then got me thinking even more...
What if you had a guy, or girl, who as a kid used to sneak into the living room on Christmas eve and open all the presents. I mean all of them. Like they couldn't wait another moment, those packages had to be cracked open at this very minute kinda now. Instant gratification to the Nth degree. Hard core impatient. But also a bit shifty. Maybe the kid removes all the contents and then rewraps the presents so they look like they haven't been tampered with. The kid just needed to see what's inside. Maybe the kid would end up taking the goodies and leaving town. I'm not really sure of that part yet.
So, what would happen to this kid when he grows up? What if that urge is only amplified through time. What if the kid also becomes a master thief, being completely controlled by this whole curiosity thing. This "need to know now."
What if this kid grows up and becomes a specialist? A neo-archeologist? (Can that word even exist, or does it cancel itself out?) What if this adult's sole purpose in life now is to steal time capsules? I mean, those things are normally stashed away someplace wacky, like at the base of a statue, or the corner foundation of a building. This person needs to find these things, steal them away, open them up, take (or not take) the items inside, and then maybe they'll return the time capsule back to it's original location. It's not like anyone is going to notice the damn thing is missing anyway.
It's all about seeing that date on there, and deciding to skip the rules. "Screw these guys if they think I'm gonna wait another two years to open this thing, I want it now!" Maybe the person's home is loaded with these items, giving people the impression they're either some kinda of retro freak or shop at the Salvation Army a bit too much. Their whole place could be decked out in '50s gear, since I bet that was probably a time when everyone was so chipper and happy they could decide, "Hey, let's take a bunch of our favorite stuff and bury it in the ground!" Maybe it was the Cold War. Maybe it was television shows like Leave it to Beaver. Maybe it was simply the drinking water.
The harder it is to steal a particular time capsule, the more the person wants it. Maybe the closer it is to the "expiration" date the more driven the thief is. "Don't wanna miss that deadlineŠ" And this person would have to be an excellent researcher. They'd have to be able to go find and sift through very old records to see where time capsules might be buried. Check old newspapers and such. Let's not even mention the international implications. I mean, this person isn't some type of grave robber, since those things were never intended to be reopened. No, it's limited to time capsules. It's the single goal in life: to hunt down and open every time capsule on the planet before they're supposed to be "officially" opened.
I bounced the idea off my dad while we were driving home and he asked if I was on any type of medication. See? Never appreciated. I think this is a great angle to someone. I wish I knew a time capsule thief. I wish I was a time capsule thief... Come to think of it, when my sister was born back in '76 my folks celebrated by putting together a box of goodies to be opened in the year 2000. Oooo... and it was the centennial, so I bet there's some swag stuff in there. Ummm... I gotta go see about a box... bye.