Sandy DicksonView all articles by Sandy Dickson
The security procedures went surprisingly quickly too, even with all the constantly changing regulations. One difference I noticed since my last flight a year ago, is that the quintessential apple-pie family of five in front of me going past the initial security desk checking picture IDs, was announced to the next attendant standing by the conveyer belt.
“Family of five: two adults and three small children,” the attendant said into her hand-held unit, as if the person standing seven feet away couldn’t see that. Then she said to the mother, “Your family has been randomly chosen for the additional security check.” Yes, they sure looked like a dangerous lot, the three kids ranging from ages of about 2 to 8 and the mom and dad. I’m sure that choice was indicative of nothing, while I, on the other hand, was traveling alone and seemed much more likely to be harboring a bomb.
The luggage of the mother in front of me bore a CD player still in the original box, so she was asked to remove the device from her tote bag while they examined it and all the other contents more closely. Of course her having to take several other things out to accomplish that got half their job done for them. The other hand luggage they carried was also closely inspected while they let me sail right on past them.
I had left things behind I’d like to have taken, like my computer memory stick. I was afraid they’d make me surrender it for fear of it being a bomb component and me going into that tiny airplane bathroom to assemble it. I was also afraid to put it in my checked baggage. For fear of my baggage getting lost through the transfer of planes, I didn’t take anything I couldn’t stand the thought of losing. I’ve been to that
Of course my gate was at the very end of the concourse. It always is, anywhere I go, it seems. But I had plenty of time. Once boarding, I filed down the narrow aisle to my assigned seat, passing previously seated passengers. Well, that guy looks like a terrorist if I ever saw one.
I passed him, found my seat and now sized others up coming down the aisle, mentally choosing most and least acceptable seat mates.
She looks like a nice person; he looks okay; oh, I hope that one’s not seated next to me because he’s chomping his gum like there’s no tomorrow; mouth open with each chaw. That would be hard to take for a 2 ½ hour flight. I’d have to keep him talking the whole way to keep him from chewing.
I’d requested an aisle seat to keep from bothering anyone if I wanted to get up. But no one was seated with me, so I moved to the window.
It always amazes me when I fly, how much space there is between towns. It’s a rare thing to see a town from the air, yet people are always griping about a population boom. Why is that? Haven’t they ever taken a plane trip?
Now I hear gum frantically cracking. That’s the one thing I find very difficult to tolerate. It’s the guy behind me. He’s the real terrorist. Maybe he’ll remove his gum for the beverage soon to be served, especially if he eats the peanuts. No one likes their gum mixed with peanuts. I just have to hope he doesn’t have any more for after the peanuts.
The guy who was chomping so vigorously on his gum that I hoped wasn’t assigned next to me, wound up across from me one row up. His head was tipped back against his seat and he appeared to be sleeping, but he was still chewing his gum, still open- mouthed too. Fortunately, I couldn’t hear it over the drone of the engines or I’d have gum chewing in stereo. Where were those girls with that beverage cart?
Oh, a small bag of peanuts and cheddar cheese crackers. These ought to be good for gum removal. God is good.
Of course I still have three hours to wait in
The airport has always been a place to meet people for a bit of conversation while one bored traveler looking for something to do, welcomes a chat with a stranger between flights.This is what I had had in mind. But alas, it doesn't happen anymore, as people are all tied up either talking on cell phones, watching DVDs or entertaining themselves with some other form of electronic device. It's a good thing I brought some books and writing material for my self-entertainment, as starting a conversation seemed it would be an intrusion.
Later I noticed a couple servicemen in camouflage fatigues, so I went to thank them for what they are doing for their country. As we conversed, I thought also to ask what an orange alert is. They said they didn’t know. “Our military security codes are different than those of Homeland Security,” he said. “You’d think they’d all be the same, being for the same government, but they never coordinated or communicated that with each other apparently,” he said.
My next gate was number 35. As I whisked past all the other gates on the way, most were totally deserted. I swear, I don’t know what they ever use all these other gates for. I think they’re just for show. And how many gates were there on that concourse? Thirty-five, of course.