I recently had the pleasure of traveling by air, which is something I don’t do on a regular basis. Given that I have a touch of OCD, I have a routine that ensures I abide by the litany of airline rules and that I don’t miss my flight. I arrive 2 hours before flight time and stuff as many 3.4 ounce or less items as possible into a clear plastic bag so that everyone from the TSA agent to the droves of businessmen around me can see the plethora of creams, lotions, and liquids needed to keep ‘this’ operational. I tip-toe like Fred “Twinkletoes” Flinstone to the scanner and once inside, wait for the nod to be still, spread ‘em, and raise ‘em high-Hmm, where have I heard that before? I wonder, what can they see of ‘me’ beyond floral granny panties and the large underwires used to hold things in place? Whatever they see must not be that great because I’ve never been pulled out of the line-up for additional exploration.
Once through security I set up shop in an isolated area near the gate where I can avoid talkers, coughers, sneezers, and snorters, yet still enjoy the sights and sounds of the airport. I check my carry-on, cheaters, purse, book, and phone a million times because remember, I have a touch of OCD.
About the time that my space is no long mine, boarding begins. While there are many amusing sights at the airport, none of them make me laugh more than the actual board process. It’s an exciting time for many soon-to-be passengers who seem to be able to sense when the agent leaves the breakroom to walk to the gate to begin boarding. They stand up and begin to saunter towards to the gate door, like a scene from Night of the Living Dead. Do you think the plane will leave without you when you are standing right here? Better yet, do you think you will reach your destination sooner if you are the first to be seated?
The airline I was flying that day boarded by zones. The first announcement came and while I could only decipher a few lines of what the agent mumbled into the microphone, I could tell something big was going to happen-the saunter upgraded to a shuffle. People were moving faster towards the boarding gate lane-you know, the shiny chrome poll with a sign at the top and a 4-inch wide tape extending about 20 feet towards the gate podium? The sign that directs ‘priority’ passengers to one side of the tape where the floor runner that tells them they are a ‘priority’, and sends ‘other’ passengers to the ‘other’ side where there is no message reinforcing their status? Movement subsides, except for those needing extra time to board and families with small children and all the stuff that goes along with that. That is called ‘pre-boarding’ and everyone is fine with it. Next are military members in uniform followed by the people who have and spend a lot of money on travel and obviously need to be associated with expensive items such as diamonds, platinum, and gold-They wanted to be in the ‘in crowd’ in high school. I, on the other hand, was ready to use the ‘other’ side of the gate lane as a proud member of zone 3 and the ‘other’ crowd.
As each special group was called, my space was returning to an area of isolation. Fewer and fewer people remained in the seating area. I gathered my things and nonchalantly moved towards the ‘other’ lane. When zone 3 was announced, I, along with about five other women who were also not called out for special exploration and who were wearing sensible shoes, comfortable stretch pants, cheaters on a chain around their neck, stood looking at each other. Are we the only ‘other’ passengers on this flight? Of the hundreds of people on the plane we are the only six ‘normal’ oops, I mean ‘other’ passengers? Yes, but as the last seated, we have the pleasure of spending the least amount of time next to a talker, cougher, sneezer, and snorter. We might not be a ‘priority’, but we are lucky! Happy St. Patrick’s Day.