Rather than Tweeting or Facebooking or writing a blog, this friend blasts e-mails about her life experiences. Here is her latest “post” about a pre-holiday trip she recently made to visit family in Indiana. Her subject heading was “You had to have been there…” I wish I had been. It sounds as if she gave everyone some Christmas cheer. What a great gift!
Yesterday, everything was going well as Cousin Evan and I arrived at the Indianapolis airport right on time for our flights home. He was flying American; I was on Southwest. We said our good-byes before heading to our respective concourses. I got in line for the security check, preparing myself mentally to get my carry-on items untangled and up onto the conveyor belt without slowing the line behind me to a complete halt.
I walked through the metal detector without incident, and I stood on the other side of the xray machine waiting for my small suitcase to come out. The belt moved forward, the belt moved backward, forward, backward, forward, backward, and my suitcase did not make an appearance. The next thing I saw was my suitcase on the metal examination table on the far side of the screening area. Then, a TSA person tapped me on my shoulder telling me to remove my shoes and to step aside for additional screening. Something in my bag had triggered the alarm for an explosive.
Oh, boy, was I tickled. It was nearing time when my plane was to begin boarding, but this was way too funny to get nervous about missing my flight. Really?! What could it be?
I was taken behind a big Plexiglas semi-circular enclosure and frisked by a female TSA agent who really knew what she was doing. I was glad for all those years of getting undressed, showering and dressing in the women’s locker room at the pool. I think that conditioned me to feel not quite as violated as I would have felt otherwise.
Once they finished with the body check, I was permitted to head back over to where they were digging through my crammed-full suitcase. They poked, they prodded, they pulled stuff out, and I hoped they were prepared to get it all back in. It had taken my best engineering skills to get it in there in the first place. “What is it? What is it?” I asked in my most excited voice.
“We can’t figure it out,” one of them told me. In my softest, sweetest of tones I mentioned that my plane was boarding. They would not be distracted from their important business. They ran the suitcase back through the detector, and it told them again there were explosives in it.
Flashback to two days earlier: I had been the proud recipient of my dear Cousin Tamara’s Christmas-gift-for-a-female at our family gift exchange. As always, she had come up with a spectacular gift package—this one was an assortment of Mediterranean delights that included a serving board, a rounded cheese spreader, a great variety of crackers and spreads all vacuum packed in cellophane. Each item was situated to make a towering display of goodies. I had had to take it all apart to accommodate it in my modest luggage.
The TSA guys were intensely interested in all of it, even the jar of “Piquillo Pepper Bruschetta” and Cousin Stephanie’s gift of a balsam fir scented candle in a glass jar. They took the lid off the candle, enjoyed the aroma and replaced the lid.
I looked at them innocently and offered, “They’re just Christmas gifts.”
Finally, one of the TSAers said, “Well, we’re going to let you go on through.”
“But what was it?” I asked. “I really want to know!”
“Sorry ma’am, we can’t answer that. We don’t know.”
I had to move out of the way and put myself back together. At the end of the metal screening table, were four quarters. I piped up, “Hey, guys! Here are four loose quarters. I found them. Does that mean I get to keep them?”
“Thanks for the tip,” I said.
“Thanks for making screening so much fun,” said the TSAer.
I didn’t have to run at my not-so-top-speed-anymore to make my plane, but I did hoof it to the gate at a good trot. I made it onto the plane with a few minutes to spare. It was now time to size up the passengers sitting in the aisle seats to locate a nice guy with an empty seat next to him. My body language reading was intended to find someone able and willing to get my suitcase into the overhead bin. Bingo! There sat Jack. He even had a vacant seat between him and Sarah, an ophthalmologist who was traveling to Florida to plan her February wedding. It was obvious Jack was more interested in sitting next to Sarah than he was in maintaining his aisle seat, which he forfeited to me. Jack got my luggage stowed, and I got the rest of my belongings stuffed under the seat in front of me. I flopped into my seat, still flying high from the security screening episode.
Now comes the utterance for the ages. Says I, “Hey guys. You won’t believe what just happened to me! Security flagged my luggage for containing explosives!” Pause. I looked at my seatmates whose eyes were fairly popping out of their heads.
“Oops,” says I. “I guess that wasn’t the best way to begin a conversation.”
“Well,” Jack says, not missing a beat, “Would you mind telling us when it’s set to go off? I might like to make a couple of phone calls and maybe smoke one final cigarette.”
“Um,” says I, “Apparently, it’s not altitude sensitive, because we’re off the ground, and nothing has happened.”
That was my trip from Indianapolis to Atlanta. It never stopped. For a few minutes I tried to catch up on my journaling. Jack leaned over to Sarah and commented, “Watch what you say. She’s documenting everything.”
“No, I said. I’m just writing my last will and testament.”
Jack never missed an opportunity to refer to me as the suicide bomber sitting next to him.
I went through Kleenex after Kleenex from laughing so hard the tears were pouring down my face. A flight steward asked why our faces were so red, since they hadn’t served a drink to any of us. I said they’d never believe it if we told them. Nobody complained about the decibel level we achieved. Everyone seemed happy we were having a good time, even though they didn’t have a clue what it was all about—thank God!
May you all have fun and joy with your friends and family this holiday season!!