From Where I Sit – Airport Adventures

My flight to Salt Lake City was not my first one since 9/11. I knew what to expect. Allow 2 to 2 ½ hours time for check-in and customs on international flights. Have a passport to make the security checks go easier. Don’t pack your handgun, heroin or nail file. No ignorant remarks about explosives or hijackings. Don’t be a visible minority male with a beard and a name of Mohamed.

How did I get lucky? Zahir searched my purse and carry-on bag. Shirley did my above-waist pat-down and chemical check of my purse contents and cell phone. Remove my shoes and be checked with the metal detection wand (front and back, up and down, and back and forth).

“How’d you guys pick me?” I asked. “It’s random, your number came up.” “If my number was going to come up couldn’t it have been a lottery number?” Zahir points at the flight number, date, seat number that are on my boarding pass and says, “Look here are some numbers you can play.” I may have to try those.

Shirley offers to do the search in private or do it right there. I ask her if this is her favourite part of her job. “No, I hate it,” she admits, “but I have to do it.” With a mid-section roll and shall we say, an ample bosom, it is easy to see why someone would think it is possible to hide something in a bra.

I got lucky with these people. They were respectful and somewhat reluctant to do what they had to do. They thanked me for my co-operation. They revealed a tiny bit of humanity with the distinct possibility of a sense of humour. They weren’t over-zealous, heavy-handed or arrogant. They didn’t flaunt their authority or bully me with tone or action. It was a forced social transaction between human beings. They need to do their job. I need to get on the plane. If we each ‘play nice’ this part will be over sooner and we can all get on with what we need to do. No sweat.

My flight was an hour late departing. Roy and I had had to do our tearful good-bye at the point of check-in, so I had a lot of time to kill before the flight. My book wasn’t much comfort. I kept getting distracted by a new species of creature, that being male business passengers wearing headsets and carrying cell phones. Instead of just ticking off the people around them with loud, oh-so-important conversations, they pace and cover a lot of ground spreading their rudeness over larger and larger areas of the lounge, seemingly talking to themselves.

On the flight home, I met a woman who had left Edmonton that morning at about 5:00 a.m., gotten as far as Salt Lake, missed her connection by 12 minutes, waited for nine hours in the airport, and then returned to Edmonton later the same day. Apparently, Delta over-books each flight and couldn’t have gotten her to Baton Rouge until Tuesday. By then, her training session would already be over. I have nothing to complain about, from where I sit.