September5th

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From terminal B gate 6, I write to you the beginning of the journey that has now begun.

We arrived at the airport a little before 8am. We had to wait on an exit ramp for mere seconds that seemed like half an hour. All I wanted to do was jump out of the car and avoid saying “see ya later” to my parents – I’m much better at avoiding emotions than expressing them. We pulled into the first parking spot in the aptly named “unloading zone” – for luggage and emotions. Mom stayed with the car and Dad walked me inside to help me with my bags. We arrived at the check-in counter and dad set down my bags and pointed to the kiosks where I would have my passport stamped. We hugged and cried and that was that.

Well, standing there by myself (with red eyes and kleenex in hand) brought a whole new wave of emotions. As I stand there openly displaying my emotions, wondering 1) what people are thinking and 2) how stupid I would look with sunglasses on, a lady with a crew cut, round glasses, pronounced features, and a delta suit clearly not tailored to any part of her body, walked up to the barricade and muttered something in French. I asked her if she could speak in English, for even though I can speak fairly good french, I was not in the mood to think. She asked “are you traveling alone?” I reluctantly said yes – a fact I wish hadn’t been true. She states “I can help you over here” as she points in the direction of a tiny booth with a miniature laptop.  Even though the third phrase out of her mouth after viewing my face was “are you okay?” my reaction as she ushered me to the tiny booth was this: “SHIT.” I was positive she was security personnel randomly picking innocent souls to torture by red flagging them to be strip-searched at the security checkpoint. I was just positive this was her plan; probably in some attempt to repay the world for making her wear such an outfit.

She began asking me questions: “who packed your bags?” “where have your bags been since you packed them?” “do you have any possessions that resemble weapons or could potentially be used as weapons?” “during your stay here have you leant any of your items to anyone you did not know?” What kind of questions are these? Yes, I packed my bags (with the help of 5 strangers out in the parking lot, is that a problem?) and of course I have something that resembles a weapon (haven’t you heard of Russel Crowe?! A phone isn’t just for talking on!), blah blah blah…I gave the same answers as everyone else she has asked before me, I imagine.

I was mad. livid, even. I thought that these questions would the first of many from future security personnel down the line. We finished, she put a brown sticker on my passport and wrote today’s date on it. she pointed to a guy at a check-in desk and said “he can help you from here.” I smiled a half-ass smile, because 1) I figured bypassing the extremely long line to check-in only to be pointed to a check-in counter well ahead of all of my fellow passengers was too good to be true and 2) I wasn’t off the hook – for I hadn’t been to security and had yet to be searched – what I had decided was the inevitable fate of the little brown sticker on the back of my passport.

As I checked my luggage and received my boarding passes, I noticed that the lady in the un-tailored jacket merely paced up and down the lines of passengers…not helping anyone else, merely pacing.

I moved through security quickly and no issues ensued. I was speechless. I had been given what every passenger at a busy international airport only dreams of – an express ticket to my gate. After arriving at B6, I sat and continued being upset for a few minutes, then realized I had to get over that, I was making a fool of myself – so I did…kinda. I was just more subtle about wiping my tears!

Well, whatdoyaknow if not less than 15 minutes later the lady with the un-tailored jacket arrives at the gate to help with the boarding process. I spot her and she makes eye contact with me. She gives a caring smile, raises her hand just above her waist in my direction, and mouths the words “are you alright?” I smile an assured smile back and nodded my head “yes,” I mime back. She nods her head and continues with her work.

All this fear and hatred I felt toward her and her ambitions was quite misplaced. My thoughts at the moment I saw her for daring to red flag ME on a day when I’m going through more than I can handle – all I needed was some fat guy in a small white oxford at security groping me behind a semi-opaque curtain – were all wrong. She chose me to be checked in ahead of all the other passengers because I was visibly upset. I’ll admit that standing in that line for one more minute would’ve made it that all the worse, and I think she could tell that.

Therefore, this lady with the un-tailored jacket was no enemy of mine, she was a dear friend who came to my aid in a time that I visibly needed it and had no one there to help me. I’ll always remember this lady in the un-tailored jacket at the brussels airport, for she is my dear friend.

From flight 125 with service to Atlanta, set G34 – I write to you.

I made friends with someone at the gate. I couldn’t tell you her name, we didn’t get that close, But we did share a moment watching the “Sound Of Music in Antwerp Central Station” video on youtube together! I could tell we’d be good friends if we were given the chance – we both had good senses of humor. As they called for boarding in Zone 3, I casually mentioned to my new friend about a game I play. a game I call “I hope their seat isn’t by mine.”  She thought it was funny.

This game, I believe, we all play in one way or another – we all see that one person who we honestly hope doesn’t sit by us. So whether you consider it a game, or mere unconscious thoughts, you know you do it!

From Hotlanta Airport, Concourse D, Gate 26 I write the following:

I have a 4 hour layover. fortunately two of those are over with (leaving me with 2 hours left for the B- math students) and I sit here working on my $7.95 wifi! I am going to go ahead and post this…and continue the rest later. I’m so tired, I’m going to try my best not to fall asleep in this chair before boarding time!

Greatchadayis,

Ross

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