Look, I'm as wild-eyed as the next idealist, and it's been a long time since I've been groped by a friend, let alone a stranger. So the recent buildup to my flight today (missing "Opt Out Day" by 24 hours) had me ready for anything, at least as long as it could give me the excuse to misbehave at the airport. This was probably a foolish notion on my part anyway, since had things gone as expected and planned I would likely have missed my flight instead of merely being delayed because of a "fuel anomaly" discovered before we ever got off the ground. (We are up in the air now, running about a half-hour late, but it wasn't particularly fun or funny, just the usual screwup).
Fully expecting to be asked to be asked to submit to an extra x-ray and the opportunity to request a patdown, you might imagine my dismay at not having either happen at Baltimore-Washington International (or as we like to call it here, Bee-dubble-ah). No, it was all just a great big tease, and I didn't get to ask for the Freedom Grope so I could writhe and moan in feigned ecstasy. I've never had any real practice at faking it but I do remember what it's like for real, and am pretty sure I could fake it if there was something in it for me. In this case that something would have been to cause trouble. I do love me some trouble. Yes, there is something wrong with me.
Instead, I was caught in a jetstream of efficiency and even directed to an express security line, the fastest time I've ever posted getting all the crap out of my pockets, shoes off, laptop out of its bag, etc., ever. And this after going through the usual metal detector which didn't even detect my favorite silver belt buckle. I lifted my shirt to show the guy, and he just smiled. Nothing. Nada. Everyone was efficient and friendly.
There was a spot of bother on my approach to the airport, as all the long-term parking lots were closed because full of vehicles left yesterday by all the dysfunctional turkey addicts headed to god-knows-where. They left me no place to park! So I drove into the entrance to one, rolled down my window, pulled up next to the security guy stationed there for the sole purpose of turning people with airline tickets away, and screamed "WHERETHEHELL AMISUPPOSED TOPARKTHISTHING? I'VEGOTAFLIGHTTOCATCHFOR GOD'S SAKE!?"
Fortunately I was in Odenton or Baltimore or Fulton or Hanover or one of those non-existent places surrounding BWI, so the guy understood the Merlin Mumble dialect and answered "YougottagototheAmtrack lot there'sashuttletherethat'lltakeyoutotheterminal."
I did not know anything about an Amtrack lot or station or anything train-related, since I do not commute to or from "Odington" by train and never have. I tried, however. It wasn't working. I pulled into what looked like it could have something to do with trains and there were guys stationed there for the sole purpose of catching us before we'd got ourselves locked into a big parking garage that did not want us, and as I opened my window to repeat my question I was greeted with "Nonono nonotheAmtrack station parkinglot gobackto170turnleftandit'srighthere."
It wasn't "rightthere" but there were signs indicating it was somewhere in that direction, so I kept watching and much like a Masonic initiation there was, at last, a secret sign I recognized as maybe pointing to the right place. I turned in, drove ahwile on a road, came to Garage 1 and Garage 2, but no "lot." I kept going and shorty found myself behind a lot of other confounded travelers at the actual train station on the far side of Garage 2. By then the caffeine had started to kick in, so I looped around the parking structures, drove inside, and as I did spotted a long line of dejected looking people with suitcases. This had to be the place.
By now, after having given myself more than two hours of lead time so as to negotiate the security fiasco, I was almost beside myself. I found my way to the long line of people waiting for a shuttle along a driveway inside the building and stood there, muttering things to myself. I was not the only one.
A BWI shuttle bus showed up shortly but stopped a quarter mile down the line and sucked up a bunch of people. Then it came to the end of the line where I was. It stopped. The doors opened and it was packed. I saw another one coming so figured maybe that would be a better bet, but at that moment a guy jumped off the first bus and started shouting at us to "Get on the bus! If you can fit in it, get on the bus!"
Shades of the Rally to Restore Sanity metro ride into D.C.
Somehow I got on the bus. Somehow we all remained upright and were deposited at our correct area at the terminal.
This was all very strange.
Inside I was greeted by an exceptionally friendly and even happy checker-inner, who offered me, go figure, a frew upgrade to business class. Why the hell not? was my thought, so I did it. My legs are somewhat long. They get more stuff in business class. Everything is better.
That's when I knew I was ready for my Meg Ryan imitation. So much tension had built up I was annoyed enough to make a damn fool of myself just to calm down.
But no. For all the hoopla and hollering from the few of us who seem to understand life is a series of near-misses and from all the reports that between 65 and 80 per cent of Americans welcomed (no, had not "asked for" but approved of the additional security measures), for all the arguing about whether or not approval amounted to the same thing as "asking for it," and all the apologia on the news from TSA people, the President, airline people and even a promise to do away with the color-coded terror alert system, nothing. Nada. Just a was faster, more efficient pass throught the post-9/11 craziness we've long since accepted as totally normal.
I never even saw a body scanner.
All hot and bothered and now here I am squirming in my business class seat on the plane, about a half-hour away from my destination, and realizing I am some sort of pervert or at the very least a terrible contrarian, a rebel without a cause.
I'll get over it.
That aside, it's going to be a great Thanksgiving weekend. Maybe on the way back I can say something like "Mr. Demille, I'm ready for my closeup."
I am one sick mofo. I know this.
I'm just happy to be headed where I'm headed. Thankful, even.
And now I'm there.