.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Chasing The American Dream

August 27, 2007


There’s no doubt life was not meant for perfection. I’ve had some good streaks but slowly they’re all coming to an end this year. 30 years without a ticket and now three in the last six months. And now this.

As much as I travel and as many horrible experiences I seem to have every time I do, I’ve never missed a flight because of my own personal lateness. Like getting a ticket, I think luck has a lot to do with it. Maybe your connecting flight is delayed, maybe your gate is close by, maybe the security line was short, or even more of a miracle, it was fast-moving. Unfortunately for me, none was the case today. Mistake #1 was hitting the wrong button on my blackberry alarm. It went off at 4:00 a.m. and instead of hitting snooze, I hit the ‘kill’ switch. I planned on getting out of bed by 4:30 but instead, awoke in a panic state at 4:50. My flight was scheduled to leave at 6:52. I did my best to make up some time and really, everything was going smoothly. I got out of the hotel, drove to the airport, checked out my rent-a-car and got on the shuttle bus in good shape. As I sat on the bus, I realized I picked out the wrong shirt which really didn’t match my pants or socks, but oh well. I was going to make my flight.

I got to the USAir counter and breezed through it. No checked bags for me anymore. Only one more hurdle. Security. As I walked up to the USAir section of security, it looked like I was home free. Lots of open space. But as I turned the corner, I looked in disbelief at what looked like the line for Space Mountain at Disney World. The sign said, “Approximately a 20 minute wait from here.” I knew the only way that for that to be true would be if the line moved quickly. I looked at my watch. 6:03. I still had time. But standing in line for five minutes going nowhere, I realized that the 20 minute sign was either a joke or a dream. I had to negotiate four long lines of up and back. I reached the end of the first one, and it was 6:13. A quick calculation and I realized that I’d get to the front of the line at 6:43 and THEN I’d have to go through all the checkpoints. I needed a miracle. I needed something or someone to speed up. I got none of it. Not to mention the fact that it was hot as hell in that line. Not to mention that somehow, the zipper on my bag got tangled in the security rope and I couldn’t move. Yeah. I was stuck and I couldn’t get the damn thing free. It took three nice passengers to help me finally separate my bag from the damn rope. I could hear the laughs. Great. I was providing free entertainment.

I got to the front of the line at 6:37. I had a choice of three TSA agents. Naturally, I picked the slowest. The lady in front of me had a passport and she was having issues. The agent next to me was passing people through briskly while I just stood there. I finally switched lines and got through. The agent then told me to pick any line, a skill I sucked at. They all looked equally slow. The agents were shouting to remove all electronic devices and power cords and all that suspicious stuff. I threw all that crap in a tray, took off my shoes, and waited at the metal detector. With my luck, I thought for sure a beep would go off and I’d be detained but no. I actually got through. My carry-on came through. My shoes came through. The laptop and all the power cords came through. While I waited for my computer bag, I crammed on my already laced shoes. 6:42. There was still hope.

Aah, but this is me we’re talking about. No luck Charlie. There came the TSA agent holding my computer bag asking folks who it belonged to. At that moment, I realized this streak was for certain, over. I was so frustrated. I didn’t even look at the guy. I kept muttering f-bombs to myself at how ass-backward our security system in this country really is. I’m all about being safe and all that but there truly HAS to be a better way. The guy asked me if I had any sharp objects, weapons, blah blah. He had all my shit out on a table. And then came the reason for my detainment. He held up two objects. Clearly security risks. Afrin nose spray and a spray bottle of eyeglass cleaner. “Sir, these MUST be in a clear plastic bag. In the future please comply…” I stopped listening. And I didn’t bother to argue with the guy about how inconsistent the rules are. I’d traveled all over the place with those items and had never had a problem. Not to mention that my carry on was filled with toiletries, hair gels, shampoos, etc. yet apparently those were not a problem. 6:48.

Gate A-22. All the way across the terminal and all the way down. I wasn’t going to run. I mean, I had no chance anyway unless the plane left late. I thought about how many times I sat on a plane waiting for god-knows-what and seemingly always leaving late. I did walk as fast as my two legs could go. I got to the gate at 6:52. Not a soul in sight. The gate agent was still there and said her apologies to the guys in front of me and to me as well. The doors were closed and we needed to rebook. Streak over. As I rebooked, the USAir agents were really surprised at how many calls they were getting about the long, slow security lines and that they needed to alert the tower to hold up flights. They were at a loss as to why TSA didn’t properly staff up for the always busy Monday morning rush. Me, too.

Yeah, in the end it’s my own fault for being 20 minutes later than I’d hoped, and that 20 minutes would have made the difference in me making that flight and allowing the streak to go on. But streaks are meant to end and luck runs out as it all did this morning. As I walked slowly to my new assigned gate, I couldn’t help but notice how many people were running. Running with panic on their faces knowing that the fate I just accepted was about to become their reality. I looked to my right and shook my head. That security line wasn’t getting any shorter, and it certainly wasn’t moving any faster.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home