I hate traveling for business. I'm willing to do it, but there aren't too many things I wouldn't prefer, if given the choice. Things generally go badly - plane seats too small, my knees stuck to the seat in front of me, lousy food, the passenger next to me drinking too much or breaking wind too loudly and too often. But today's trip to Philadelphia was truly hideous.
I wasn't too excited about leaving my kids for Halloween weekend, or about missing my older son's last football practice and game of the season. His team won the league's Super Bowl last season, and had to move up to a much tougher division. Things haven't been pretty this year. The whole team is banged up from facing monsters twice their size and strength, my son has had a knee injury and a hyperextended elbow this year, and they're 2-5 for the season. But I bit my lip and headed for the airport this morning, not knowing what I was getting myself into.
I stopped to get cash at the ATM, and my debit card broke in half. I knew I should have ordered a new one a few weeks ago, but blew it off. I went to get gas, went inside to use the bathroom, and took a digger on the freshly mopped floor. Someone wrapped his Miata around a guardrail in the freezing drizzle, so I had to sit and fret about missing my plane for 15 minutes in a huge line of pissed off people. And wouldn't you know it, my windshield wipers iced up on me, so I had to lean over uncomfortably to see out the windshield. But I got to the airport in plenty of time, and figured things would smooth out nicely. But the day's adventures were just beginning.
The check-in line for passengers with baggage was typically long, so I got in line and waited patiently. I'd been in line for about three minutes when the man in front of me turned and said "Excuse me, I have to go get another box. Would you hold my place and watch my bags for me? I'll only be gone a minute."
I can only imagine my expression as I listened to the voice on the loudspeaker saying "Attention passengers. Do not leave your baggage unattended even momentarily. Unattended baggage will be confiscated and may be destroyed."
"No way, man," I said in astonishment. "I ain't touchin' your bags." He stormed off in a huff, leaving two bags sitting there blocking the way. The guy behind me and I joked about it for a few minutes, until he told the TSA officers what had happened, and they took the abandoned baggage away to be blown up, or whatever they do to abandoned luggage. I made it through the check-in line with no further mishap, and headed for the security checkpoint, where there was another interminable wait. I put my backpack, laptop loaned from work, leather jacket, shoes, belt, wallet, keys, glasses and change in the provided bins to be X-rayed, and went through the passenger screener without setting it off, but was pulled aside to be wanded, as I always am. I must look suspicious.