Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This Birdie's Wings

were in danger of being clipped.

Okay, not really.

But I felt like if I had opened my mouth just one more time in the Ft. Myers airport, I might have wound up on the "No Fly" list.  How come?  Glad you asked.

So here I am, returning from my vacation where of course I have to have something unusual happen.  Because I don't do boring very often.  As I am sauntering through the airport, what do my eyes spy?  A Starbucks.  And since I don't often pass one without partaking, of course I simply must stop. 

Then I continue my sauntering on down to security.  As a precursor to the rest of this post, let's just talk about the fact it's been a long while since I've flown.  So long I'd forgotten how strict security is nowadays. 

Was I about to get schooled.

So with my newly tanned skin, hot pink backpack and winning personality that is growing sadder by the moment because I will depart, I approach the security gate. 

With my boarding passes and license in one hand and coffee in the other, I approach the first checkpoint and willingly hand over the paperwork.  The gentleman carefully examines everything and waves me on through. 

I walk on to the second part, where I  obligingly unload three gray tubs worth of stuff and remove my shoes.  I merrily walk toward checkpoint number two when one of the security guards stops me and says, "Hold.  You can't pass through."

  Having been nothing but a picture of compliance, I could not fathom what I had done.  Especially as I was hearing, "That's a security threat."


"Your coffee.  It's a security hazard."

And this is where my big southern mouth about got me in trouble.  Because I will readily confess I don't watch the news as often as I should (when you leave at 5:30 a.m. and don't return until 7:00 or 8:00 p.m., it just doesn't happen).  But for the life of me, I couldn't recollect the last time this country had been terrorized by coffee.  And then, after that thought exited my head, this one came: I'm more of a security hazard without my coffee than with it. 

The portrait of utter confusion was I.  So much so that the security guard looks at me and says, "Okay, if you want to, you can finish your drink over there."  Pointing to a row of chairs which is adjacent to the clear cube where you go if you fail the metal dectector (or whatever it is nowadays, as you see I am painfully behind on this stuff). 

As I had taken two sips of my coffee and was not about to throw away a full drink, I jauntily strolled over there and took a seat in my socks.  Smiling big and waving at the people who were walking by me, I just explained my predicament.  In fact, I did so much talking that the security lady finally looked at me and asked, "Aren't you worried you're going to miss your flight?"

"No, I'm good.  My flight doesn't leave for another hour.  Thanks for checking though."

So as I'm sitting there, the thought occurs to me...If my coffee's a security threat, then so is..."Ma'am, I guess now is the time to tell you I have a bottle of water in my backpack," I confessed.  Sip, sip, sip. 

"This bottle?"  Holding up an unopened, half frozen bottle of water I was really looking forward to on the flight. 

"Yes ma'am.  But I haven't even opened it.  You can have it if you want."

"So you're surrendering your bottle of water?"  A sad nod yes.

By this time, I realized that the security thing was a bigger deal than I orginally imagined.  So much so that I had already tried to (unknowingly) sneak contraband coffee and water aboard a flight.  And I began to seriously get nervous about a snack pack of Pringles inside my backpack.  I wondered if I 'fessed up if I would wind up on the "no fly" list.  This was one thing I didn't want to find out. 

So I finished my coffee and tossed the container in the trash.  As I'm walking through the checkpoint, I did thank them for letting me finish my drink.  And I did utter these words:
"Y'all have to realize I teach elementary school.  It is my goal every day of my life not to end up on the six'o'clock news.  So I am definitely not going to do anything that can ever be misconstrued."

And because my life is never dull, one lady says, "Oh, we can make sure you wind up there." 

And I smiled and replied, "I know.  That's why I want to stay on your good side." 

And we all had good laugh.  And I went on my merry way to the other side of the security gates, where there were plenty of overpriced snacks and water. 

But there was not a mugshot on the news. 

It's the little things in life for which I give thanks.

I am in no way minimizing or mocking security personnel.  It is not their fault they have to be so stringent.  I am sad they need to be so strict.  I have the utmost respect for security personnel and am thankful they keep us safe.

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