February 8, 2013. 6:15am
Orlando international Airport
A mere 22,000 miles away from 2,000,000 miles and Lifetime Platinum status on American. Delta could have taken me home non-stop. Instead, here I am. Going South to go North. Trying to claw over the top of the mileage fence. I will arrive in NY via Miami four hours later. And, I’ve been told, squarely into the teeth of a winter blast. USA Today’s Headline: TRAVEL ADVISORY: REBOOK. TRAVEL NIGHTMARE AS BLIZZARD HITS THE NORTHEAST.
REBOOK? Not a chance.
The security line is snaking around the corner. And I’m in the PRIORITY LINE. (Snaking. Snake. 2013. Chinese New Year of the Snake. The Snake. The Snake is keen and cunning, quite intelligent and wise. Not this snake. What a Putz.)
The line inches up.
Mind is wandering. Margaret Mead, famed US Anthropologist whispers: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Yes, Margaret. For Good. And for Evil. And here we stand, since 9/11. Here’s the result of Evil.
The line inches up.
Young lady in front of me. ~23? White creaseless t-shirt. Understated designer jeans. Micro braids. Navy blue shoes polished to gleam. Tattoo on neck. Snake? (You Stalking?) Lovely young lady. Put all together so early this morning. She grabs her milk chocolate leather-faux case and bangs out a few texts on her Samsung Galaxy.
TSA attendant is now barking. “Laptops in bins. Outer coats in bins. Belts in bins. No liquids over 6 oz. iPads can stay in bags. Nothing in pockets. No coins. No combs. No paper. No tickets. No credit cards. Shoes in bin. Except for children under 5 and adults over…”
Young lady turns to me: “Sir, did he say 35? Because, if he did, I just made the cut..I won’t have to take my shoes off.” (So now I have 36 year olds calling me Sir? Middle age is exhausting. When did I become a ‘Sir?’ Is it my Old Man slacks? The collared shirt under the navy v-neck pullover? The gray salt in the stache? A whiff of annoyance blows cold.)
“No chance,” I said.
“No chance you are older than 35.”
She smiles. “Sir, I’m 37.”
She sees my surprise. She beams.
“And no chance, they will let you through security with your shoes on.”
She smiles back with that ‘watch this’ look.
The line grinds forward.
Restless. We’re shifting from right to left foot and back again.
We’re now within spitting distance of the conveyor.
We unload our cargo.
Her shoes still on.
The TSA agent glances down. And then proceeds to scold her.
“But you said adults older than 35 are exempt.”
He snaps back: “That’s 75 missy. 75 years old.”
She turns to me. I wink with the I told you so look.
She then looks at the TSA agent and points to me: “I think he might qualify.” And laughs.
I wobble. ‘Snake’ bitten and speechless. And then, I break out laughing.
The King of Jabs.
Time to board.