I took a reporting trip to Greensboro, North Carolina, this week, where I noticed something odd at the airport. See that path in the dirt? In technical terms, it’s a “desire path,” a kind of DIY sidewalk made by people deciding they’d rather go that way.
You see desire paths everywhere – across parks and campuses and between strip malls. If you’re driving along a highway and there’s a worn place in the grass by the road where a sidewalk might be, that’s a desire path created by people walking. A desire path shows where people really want to go, not where officials say they should. When groovy developers build an office complex, they’ll sometimes wait to pave sidewalks until people lay down desire paths, and then they pave those.
But here’s the weird thing: the desire path at the Greensboro airport, a short cut from the main terminal to the rental car lot, ends before it gets there. It goes about 80 percent of the way and then it just cold stops. I don’t know why, but it must be a metaphor for something.