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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Almost Human

I posted this last night on my FB page, after F.I.N.A.L.L.Y. returning home from a horrendous, horrific, gawdawful experience in air transportation from the airport in Philadelphia to LAX. 

One of my friends describes such experiences as the "high tech version of the Bataan Death March".

That's it. Exactly.

It wasn't just the results of the snow storm that hit the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, although I'm sure that didn't help.

I was flying United Air. As one of my FB friends said, the unofficial slogan of the United Flight Attendants is,  "We're not happy until we make you unhappy."

They weren't rude. They didn't do anything bad. They just didn't do anything more than whatever they were absolutely required to do.

Apparently, smiling and being pleasant is not required.

The passengers whose flight had been delayed and were bumped again and again were more pleasant and human than the United Air flight attendants and ticket and baggage people. Sheesh!

These United Air flight attendants were NOT on my flight
There was this one moment of levity, however, that almost escaped my memory banks.

I recovered it while sitting in my very own comfortable chair in my very own warm, wonderful home (which weathered the storm well - the yard, however, not so much - but that's another story for another day), preparing to sleep in my very own wonderful bed.

I don't want to lose the story again, so here it is:

So, despite my grumbling about the horrors of my most recent experience with air transportation, there was a moment which, as I reflect on it, was a real bright spot that needs to be lifted up and shared.

I got through the long, winding cattle line through ticket and ID processing and to the process that has become mind-numbingly familiar and yet still mildly annoying.

I took off my shoes, emptied my pockets, stepped into the full body scan, placed my feet on the little yellow outline of feet on the floor, raised my arms over my head the way the picture instructed me to do and stood still for the 30 whole seconds they tell you it's going to take to make sure you don't have any hidden explosives or sharp objects or other weaponry hidden in your body.

As I stepped out of the scan, a young female TSA agent motioned me to please step aside, saying that I needed a body pat down. She was polite but perfunctory, a bit harried and hassled for 8 AM.

She didn't need the extra work any more than I needed a delay.

She asked me if I minded her doing the pat down publicly or if I wanted to go someplace more private. I told her it was fine to do it right there but asked why she needed to do it.

"You have a groin abnormality," she said.

"A groin abnormality?" I asked, alarmed.

"You mean," my voice rising, "there's an abnormality in my groin?" (It was 8 AM. I had been up since 4 AM) "You saw that on the scan?" I almost yelled.

"Do we need to call a doctor or a gynecologist or something?" I asked.

I could feel myself breaking into a cold sweat.

She was squatting in front of me, ready to start the pat down.

She started giggling, then laughing.

She laughed so hard she fell over on her butt.

"No . . . Oh, my Gawd . . . No . . . No . . .I mean, you have a dime sized spot on your scan . . . it's an abnormal scan . . .It's just a term . . . Oh, my Gawd . . . I never realized how that sounded .. . "groin abnormality" . . . I'm so sorry."

She patted the place on my inner thigh where the dime-sized abnormality was and - sonofagun - there it was! A dime! Apparently, it had slipped through a small hole in the seam of my pocket and had lodged itself in the inseam of my pants.

We laughed and laughed and laughed. So hard. Some of her coworkers started giving us the hairy eyeball. I looked at them and said,

"It's okay. I've just found a new gynecologist! And," I said, boldly putting my hand down my pants and pulling out the dime, "it only cost me a dime."

And, we laughed some more.

Then, she had to check my hands with some chemicals - all part of the procedure - and then we shook hands. "You don't want to be late," she called after me as she helped me put on my sweater and shoes.

Nice thought. Turns out my flight was delayed an hour and 45 minutes.

We had already pulled away from the gate and were on the tarmac. Some AC light went on for no apparent reason and they couldn't get it to turn off so they couldn't take off until it was fixed or checked out.

Or, something.

Meanwhile, I sat in that very cramped space, in that most uncomfortable seat, breathing the increasingly stale, re-circulated air of other people, watching the continuous loop of commercials for the "Direct TV" I could purchase for $7.99 on the tiny screen in front of me.

My recent experience with air transportation sucked all the humor out of my body. And seriously lowered my assessment of the human race. Including my own role in it.

I just now remembered incident with the TSA agent.

I'm already feeling better about being human. And, other human beings.

I may even be able to sleep tonight.


JCF said...

Funny story!

Hey Elizabeth (this is off-topic): I remember your strong feelings about the Democratic Primary 8 years ago (FWIW, we were on opposite sides then: I supported Obama). I wonder if you have any take on this year's primary season? [Ironically, I strongly support Clinton this time around, and feel deeply uneasy about the surge of "Feel the Bern"]. If you're with Hillary again, perhaps you could say why you think this is "happening again". Or if you're w/ Bernie, you could say how things are DIFFERENT from '08! At any rate, I would love to hear your take...

Alla Renée Bozarth said...

That is truly redemptive thinking!