Thursday, July 14, 2005

Airport incident - but really, it wasn't my fault

The Atlanta airport is a BIG airport, and spread out long. Not sure if it’s larger than Houston’s international airport, but its size is undeniable and it even involves a train. (Wahoo!) After you’ve checked in, you go through security, and then you’re free to walk one hundred miles to your concourse, or you take the train to the A, B, C, D, or T concourses. The T Concourse, by the way, is Baggage Claim. I figure that they put it way down in the alphabet to leave room for growth, or to confuse the heck out of people since B, C, D and T sound the same. And when you’re on the train, the recorded announcement telling you at which concourse you’ve arrived isn’t very sharp at the front end of the letter so at every stop what you hear is, Now arriving at Concourse E.

Good luck at Concourse E.

You might think that this little story involves me getting off the train at the wrong concourse, and that would be a natural conclusion considering that I’ve already confessed my inability to decipher between the Marriott and Residence Inn, but you’d be wrong. The story takes place in Security.

But wait, before I tell you the story, I first have to confess that no one would ever refer to me as, say, a cool and collected flyer. While I am capable of flying without having a breakdown, trust me, my nerves are shredding on the inside. So, someone like me has a natural inclination to be a good member of the general public and keep my eye out for suspicious looking people or unattended bags. You know, like they tell us to do. It’s our responsibility in the scheme of national security, and I take that responsibility very seriously.

Standing in the security line, I see it... a suitcase all on its own. It’s cleverly placed near the front of the line but not actually in the line, just off to the side a bit. I keep my eye on it and, as the line moves forward, no one claims it. It seems to me that no one even sees it. I’m feeling a bit nervous that the terrorist would leave the suitcase right there, and a bit safe since the terrorist knew that there was no way he (okay, could be she) would make it through the tough Atlanta security. And, truth be told, I’m also feeling like a good citizen, and that sort of excites me, sort of like the times I was selected to stay after school and help my Second grade teacher clean the erasers.

I move up a bit in line, look around me, and still no one seems to notice the bomb-ladened suitcase. They’re all caught up in their travel plans. (Ahem... I canNOT believe that I am the only one doing my part, canNOT believe that no one else has seen the suitcase that clearly places all of us in danger.)

As my belongings disappear on the conveyer belt and I am instructed to walk through the security monitor, I look at the agent on the other side and tell him, “Excuse me but there is a suitcase right there that seems to be abandoned,” and I point to it.

The agent approaches the suitcase, and what do you know? Here comes Mister Can’t-Take-My-Suitcase-with-Me-Even-though-It-Has-Wheels. The agent questions the man if the suitcase belongs to him, and then, looks my way and says, “There was some concern.” He doesn’t exactly finger me as the informant but it is pretty darn obvious by that glance. Lazy bones had apparently moved his suitcase to the front of the line so that he could go the restroom and then return to the end of the line, so as not to cut in place. Likely story. I can only assume that he didn’t want to be so incredibly encumbered by the burden of wheeling his suitcase beside him.

While Lazy bones is explaining himself to security, he shoots me a look that is balanced nicely between its dual message of MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS and I DESPISE YOU. And wouldn’t you know, it’s just my luck that the area is congested with people blind to suspicious-looking items, but very in tune to what’s holding them up, so they all join in. And in no time I am the hapless recipient of a chorus of nasty looks.

While I'm thinking that they can all piss on themselves because I’m not the one who broke the rules by leaving my bag unattended, I betray myself. What I say to the security agent, and loud enough for everyone to hear is, “I’m sorry.”

That would have been enough, just that simple apology.

But I just couldn’t let it go and had to follow it with, “I was trying to do my part, you know, trying to be a good citizen.”

Because I am so queer that way. Because something inside me thought that if I said it, the agent would maybe give me a key to the city, or at least some plastic wings, or, I don’t know, let me stay after school with the teacher and help clean the erasers.

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