Thursday, September 22, 2011

Where's the Team?

The airport is always an interesting experience. Whether the experience is good or bad depends a lot on who helps you at the bag check counter.

When I rolled my seven jeep bags into the airport and up to the counter, which took a few trips, I received many “looks” from various people. Some people could tell what was going on, probably because they’ve gone through the same thing, and other people seemed rather confused, or even flustered by the fact that one person had so much baggage.

One lady, Vicki, a Frontier employee asked me, “Where’s the team?”

I was caught off guard at first and then I realized what she meant. All of my bags looked exactly the same and she thought that a bunch of girls in matching sweats and t-shirts should be paired with each one of the bags.

“Oh, it’s just me,” I told her. “I’m going off to college, I’m the first one in my family so we haven’t really done this before.”

We conversed more about the same things I’ve told everyone, I did my best to remember that it was new to her and give her as many details as I could.

My Dad began to place all the bags one by one on the scale next to the counter; none of them were overweight, I double-checked many times on the bathroom scale at home. Vicky, the lady who I had talked to minutes before was working to the left of my Dad across the counter, and another lady (who will not be named) was working to the right.

We were prepared for the fact that one of the bags would cost extra, since you are only allowed to have 2 bags per person.

We were not prepared for what would happen next.


Dad looked up severely at the lady to the right.

To no one in particular she said, “I think one of those bags got the tag for Spokane.”

What? You what? I’ve spent weeks packing those and deciding what I should take and you think you just sent it to Spokane?! That’s a five-hour drive from Seattle!!

Vicki had been the one putting the tags on the luggage, but the other lady had placed the tags for the people next to us in the wrong spot. They both realized once they were a tag short for the other people that there must have been a mix up.

The lady on the right wasn’t willing to take responsibility or try to fix the problem.

Vicki, nice as she was, quickly volunteered to go out of her way down to the luggage room and find the one bag that had been mislabeled. Dad gave her his cell phone number so that she could call us and let us know if she found it. The worst part about this is that Dad still had to pay the extra money, even though a bag of the luggage might have been sent to the wrong destination.

Vicki called us nearly half an hour later to say that she had found the prodigal bag and made sure that it would be on our flight. I can’t even express how grateful I am for what she did.

We had already made it through security and were headed toward our gate. On our way we passed the food court, which immediately reminded my Mom’s stomach that she hadn’t eaten breakfast. So she stopped to buy food and I proceeded toward the gate with my backpack, guitar and John Deer lunch box. (Yes, I have a John Deer lunch box and it is currently holding the $60 in quarters that I will use for my laundry. So I decided not to let it out of my sight.)

Dad was walking behind me and said, “Biff, your license is falling out of your back pocket.” I stuck it there, along with my boarding pass, so it would be easily accessible when I passed through security.

I reached back and pushed it further into my pocket.

And my heart skipped a beat.

Where was my boarding pass?

I just love having to tell my Dad about things like this. Like when the toilet’s clogged, or I forget to remind him of something important, or the one time that our mail ended up all over the street because of my brother’s carelessness. Things like that.

He gives me the “look”. A wide-eyed, WHAT?

“Uh, Dad? I think my boarding pass fell out of my pocket.”

He looked back at me, with that very expression. I knew it was coming.

“It’s ok!” I said. “I’ll run back and find it! It can’t be far back!”

We had been walking on one of the moving walkways in the airport. My first idea was to turn around and run back across the moving walkway while it worked against me. And then I must have decided that would look idiotic and maybe I should run back to look for my boarding pass once I got off.

So that’s what I did. I dropped my belongings and ran. I doubt many people have seen anyone move faster in an airport before.

I ran past the moving walkway I had just got off of and then past a second one. I ran a little further and there was a piece of paper folded, lying on the white airport tile. I picked it up and opened it up.

It was mine.

I couldn’t help but smile. Laugh almost! How ridiculous. First a piece of luggage, then my boarding pass.

Mom caught up to us, McDonald’s in hand, by the time we reached the gate. Dad was the first to hand his boarding pass to the check-in lady.

I haven’t seen a boarding pass beep red many times in my life, maybe not ever. It’s normally a given it will always beep green and you’ll pass right through, right?

Guess not.

Dad’s beeped red. Good grief.

The lady then mumbled something about how Dad had the same seat as some other guy and my Dad tried to say, that’s impossible! I bought this ticket months ago! And the lady said (not joking), “Well, sir, the computer’s the boss so we have to listen to what he says.” Obviously lady, the computer messed up this time.

Apparently my Dad and a past Marine had been booked for exactly the same seat on the same flight. 7C. The Marine got called to the front of the desk and the lady gave him a new seat, which kept Dad next to Mom and me in his original seat.

We got on the plane, and I took up nearly an entire overhead bin with my guitar.


I settled by the window seat, that’s where I prefer to be.

The plane took off, and I watched the shadow of it get smaller and smaller as the plane flew higher. Eventually it turned into a glare on the earth and I got to thinking that, if the plane stopped, the glare might burn a hole into the ground. Same way you can burn up ants with a magnifying glass, which I’ve never done.

Actually, I think I’ve done it once.

I felt guilty for a week.

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