Thursday, October 22, 2009

Adventures in Air Travel

It must be a prerequisite to be an employee of the TSA that you have to speak fluent dick. I mean, I get it. You have a job where you are in charge of overseeing something that 99.99% of people absolutely despise. Airport Security. Just the thought of it made you cringe a little, right? But I can just about guarantee that none of you have a worse airport security story than me, which we will get to in just a moment.
But first, back to Airport security being dicks. I don't get it. I mean, I just don't get it. Surely it wouldn't kill you to smile. I would think that it would make their job a little more pleasant, not to mention a better security experience for the passengers which would undoubtedly lead to less delays.
I went to Disney World one time, a place that bills itself as "The Happiest Place on Earth", and when I went to get one of those famous mouse-shaped ice-cream thingies for my daughter the little pimply guy behind the cart was kind of, well - a dick. So I thought that if I could find a pissy employee at the happiest place on Earth, then shouldn't it stand to reason that conversely I should be able to find a pleasant Airport Security person.
I'm still looking.
So here's what happened. My parents own a lake house in Northern Wisconsin and a couple of years ago my brother and I were flying up there to join them to celebrate my dad's birthday. So over the course of many years we have made friends with many of the locals and my mom who is a sales representative for the Sara Lee Corporation in the Hillshire Farms/Kahns division likes to bring them little gifts from time to time. So she and my dad, who were already in the Northwoods called to say that they had forgot their gifts and would I go to their house and get them. They would be on the kitchen counter in a brown paper bag. "Sure," I said. "I'll just stick 'em in my carry-on" Big mistake!
I place the bag in my carry on, drive the three hours to get my brother, and proceed to the airport where by this time I had completely forgotten about said gifts. See, I can tell you think you know where this is going, but I assure you, you don't.
All is well. We check in a little early. We grab a drink at Louisville Airport's famous Woodford Bar. We buy a few magazines for the flight and head to security.
It actually doesn't look to bad. The only person in front of us is some unfortunate woman with three kids. My brother helps her with her stroller and we make brief small talk before it's our turn at the firing range - I mean, security.
I swear to you, I am suddenly convinced that the Louisville Airport's security are hired from German Nazi training camps.
"Keep the belt moving!" "Place your shoes in the box and keep the belt moving." "Place all metal in the tray." "Keep the belt moving!" And my all time favorite, "Did you pack this bag yourself?" and "Has this bag been in your possession the whole time?" As if, "Um no, actually. I had to run to the rest room so this shady looking Arab man with a large beeping package offered to watch it for me." Duh! Of course the stupid bag has been in my posses ion the whole time. I've had to drag it all over this stupid airport because we had to park in almost Indiana and hoof it for 2 miles. And as for packing my own bag . . . well, lets just think about it. I'm flying coach to Rhinelander, Wisconsin whereupon I will drive another hour and a half to get to my destination where we will partake in viewing the National Lumberjack Competition. I hardly think I have a butler packing my bag for me.
So all questions answered, it's time to got through the X-ray. My brother being the gentleman that he is, offers to go first. Remember the stroller-woman and how nice he was? Well, she wasn't his sister. His bags, of course, sail right through with no problem. Now it's my turn, and of course by this time there is a line behind me that reaches to Churchill Downs. My bags is now stopped in the X-ray machine. I immediately think that perhaps it is over sized and won't fit thought the X-ray and they are going to make my check it. If only.
The lady pulls it out and runs it through again, looking at the screen with a troubled look on her face. She calls over the other guy working with her. He too looks troubled. "Ma'am, we are going to need to search your bag."
"Uh, OK?" I say. What else can I say. And she actually pulls me over to the side and holds my shoes hostage until the bag is searched. I guess she knows I'm not going to run with my cute little Cole Haan flats on the line. She's right.
By this time, my brother is through security and is helpfully putting his shoes back on while simultaneously throwing me under the bus. "I don't know what in the heck she's got in there. It's hard to say with her." Well, thank you very much, Little Brother. Feel free to shut up now.
Meanwhile, my underwear, makeup, and tampons are out on a cold stainless steel table for god and everyone to see. "Here it is," the woman says triumphantly, holding the object in question over her head for her co-worker to see. "It's only a sausage," she says sounding disappointed.
It is indeed. A two-foot long smoked summer sausage meant as a gift for my dad's hunting buddy. The security lady looks at me apologetically and says, "sorry, we thought it might be. . .umm . . .shampoo or something." I just look at her. Because even if it was, shampoo is such a threat to national security. By this time Little Brother is back by my side. "We thought it might be a liquid of some kind,"the woman says a little more confidently.
"No you didn't," my brother declares. "You know what you thought it was."
Oh. My. God. I am officially mortified. Everyone in security is by this time rolling with laughter. I swear to you a couple of them are actually having to hold each other up as I stand there holding my two-foot sausage. "Just shut up," I whisper furiously, shoving everything back into my back with as much dignity as I can manage.
Finally after many hours and three airports and a rental car later we finally make it to the lake house where we are greeted by our parents who say, "Oh we forgot to call and tell you. We didn't need that package after-all."
Of course.

I actually had another couple of stories to share about my air travels but they will have to wait for anther day as I seem to have run on a bit.

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