Did our nation’s water supply get replaced with Stupid Juice while I was sleeping?

24 May

I generally avoid traveling on Mondays and Fridays. This morning I was reminded why. (Note: it is Monday.)

Upon arriving at the airport, I went straight to a check-in kiosk and attempted to run my card – with no luck. I tried three other machines (and two other cards) with similar results, so eventually I joined the masses in line for the kiosks that are supervised by United personnel.

The line wasn’t moving, despite the fact that I could clearly see no fewer than four free kiosks blinking “check-in here.” No one in line was wearing a suit, and most of the people had over-sized bags indicating they were heading on vacation. They all had blank looks and no urgency. I wanted to push someone.

When I eventually got my turn at a kiosk, I was greeted by a message that said, “Flight unavailable for check-in at this time.” Apparently, it was a good thing I hadn’t shoved people out of my way insisting I only needed a kiosk, because as it turned out, I had to talk to an attendant.

My flight, she told me, had mechanical problems and would be delayed two hours. So I was rebooked on another flight departing two hours later. (I’m not sure why the original reservation didn’t stand, but if I was being offered a chance to NOT fly on a plane with known problems, I wasn’t going to refuse it.)

Boarding pass in hand, I went to the security checkpoint. At National Airport there are few gates in each terminal so the lines are usually pretty short and fast. This morning, however, it was a zoo. They had all lanes going and even so, the line snaked out well past where the structured maze ended.

I heard the TSA worker call out, “EVERYONE. Look at your ticket. Confirm the gate number is between 19-36. If it is not, go to a different checkpoint!” People looked at their tickets and remained in line. Yet I must have seen at least six people in front of me get bumped from line and redirected to a different terminal. Apparently they couldn’t read.

The TSA worker who checked my ticket and ID was a tall African American gentleman whose last name was Love. I noted this because his silver name badge said, “LOVE OFFICER.” Cracked me up.

People ahead of me looked shocked to learn that they couldn’t bring their full-sized toothpaste. One man was trying to demonstrate that since 50% of the tube was empty, it complied with size requirements. Another woman refused to take her shoes off because the floor was cold, and one man looked like he’d burst into tears when he was told to take off his belt – which he did in the s-l-o-w-e-s-t way possible.

After unpacking my backpack into an x-ray bin, I passed through security without a problem. That is, until I waited at the other end of the conveyor belt to reunite with my items. My shoes came through, my laptop and backpack came through, but my suitcase did not appear. About that time, I notice the belt moving backward and forward and three people crowded around pointing at the monitor.

Immediately, I knew what the problem was. The last time I was in Chicago I had picked up a corkscrew. I’d tucked it in my bag and forgotten about it. Miraculously, it made it back to DC without being spotted. But this morning it was caught. I was pulled aside, my bag was examined and the guy took my corkscrew. Truth be told, I would *rather* they keep my corkscrew if it means they’re being equally diligent about would-be terrorists with actual weapons stowed in their bags. I’m all about making it to my destination.

And really, it’s probably best that they took it. If I encounter any more people with blank faces or who appear to be new to flying, I’d be tempted to use it to complete their lobotomies.

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One Response to “Did our nation’s water supply get replaced with Stupid Juice while I was sleeping?”

  1. Babs May 24, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    Love that you didn’t care too much about the corkscrew. I lost one in Dublin that had been given to me as a gift so it had special meaning because the night before I had a bit too much wine and accidentally left it in my carry-on.

    Question though: have you ever shoved someone out of the way on the escalators because you were about to miss your connection? The “surprised” looks people give are priceless!

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