The proud sign outside the airport proclaims it the BEST, and who are we to argue? It was voted top honors in 2021 and 2022 for airports that A) are in North America, B) handle 25 million to 40 million passengers a year, and C) start with M and have an S in the middle.

OK, I made up that last part. I think the local airport deserves the award, but I'm a bit worried about 2023 — if everyone else notices something I did.

The good news: pooches. I was making my way through the airport last week, thinking, "It's perfect, but needs dogs. There should be dogs stationed around the place, ready to pet." Then I saw the dog, sitting in the concourse, ready to be petted. Never seen that before. I paused to give a glowering King Charles Spaniel some scritches, and walked away thinking, "Now it's perfect."

This mood was short-lived, replaced by amused indignity about the price of things. If you're among those people who blow their noses with Swiss Francs, you might not have noticed. But as the rest of us know well, you can spend a dollar on an individually wrapped Cheez-It, but if you want the whole bag of 22 Cheez-Its, you'll need a bridge loan from the IMF.

Right now, some reader is thinking: "Wow, high prices at the airport! Where does this guy get his ideas?" I know. It's a subject so obvious that the International Humor Conference retired the topic in 2018, and you have to apply for permission to use it. Good thing the United States is not a signatory to the protocols.

Also, there's a reader who is sitting in smug judgment of your narrator, because he knows there is no such thing as "Cheez-Its." The singular term applies to the item regardless of quantity.

While those readers fume, let's return to the subject. I understand why prices are high: They have you penned in. Don't like the price? Well, where are you going to go, the other airport?

I bought a gift for my hosts: some local candy (made with Minnesota caramel, mined from the great goo pits up north) and some bison sausage, which I will present with a genial fiction about the lowing herds that mosey down Lyndale Avenue every day. At the counter was a sign I'd never noticed before: "Hospitality tax, 4.5%."

I've always thought of hospitality as the friendly and generous reception of guests. As in: "Welcome! Have a seat, I'll fetch something refreshing to drink, and a nice selection of cold meats and cheese." I have never finished that statement by adding, "The total value of these items is $4.67, so hand over a quarter."

Guests would be appalled, and perhaps rise in their chairs to leave, until they noticed you had locked the door.

This also presupposes the existence of an inhospitality tax. Someone in the airport is going to come up to you and hit you in the shin with a cudgel, after which you ask, "How much do I owe you?"

"Nothing, that's included in your parking ramp restriping surcharge."

This is why I bring my own snacks, although I probably couldn't bring bison meat on the plane and stuff a sausage casing. People like me are not contributing to the airport's economic health, which is why next year there will be a new charge. Mileage tax on the moving walkway? No. That would be silly.

Toll booths, that's what they'll do.