I got up at a quarter to four on the 30th of September. The taxi showed up a couple of minutes before five and we were at the airport by half past the hour or a little earlier. I checked two bags and didn't have to pay because I had made Business Class reservations. The only other time in my life I had paid full price for Business Class was on a consulting engagement I got in the 90's to Australia. The client paid for that, though. First Class – the domestic translation of Business Class on a hybrid domestic/international flight – got me into the First Class security line. That's a short line that lets one think one is beating the system when one is just standing in line less long so one can stand with all the other, non First Class travelers for however long it takes. It's sort of a go to the head of the line so you can be first to get to the end of the line. I still had to take off my shoes though.
The young woman with infant behind me was somewhat upset with me as I began to fill every security container that she reached for. I had a lot of stuff. I had my ThinkPad supercomputer; I had my giant wool lined raincoat; I had my Hartmann satchel half full of books and half full of a plastic food container filled with toilet items and pills – I'm old and take pills now – (I had no idea what terrorist uses pills had probably had applied to them and I was not at all optimistic about the chances for me actually getting those pills on the plane); I had my computer and electronics back pack, which once relieved of its ThinkPad still was brim full of cameras and nefarious looking electronic accoutrements ( I was sure that I would need to explain the function of each of them prior to being allowed to graduate from security); and I had my navy blazer and wide leather belt made for my by my daughter Morgan sometime in the last century and which has as its buckle an art work from Monet Missouri which was a going away gift given to me by the people who once worked for me at IBM in Jefferson City and which is a picture of a wild turkey laminated on a beautiful slab of black walnut, and having, therefore, no electronic characteristics, but it's big and security always makes one take off big belt buckles. Each of these items required a container. Each time I filled one the young mother would reach for one and try to move ahead of me. I had no idea where she thought she was going to go ahead of me; my items stretched ahead as far as the eye could see; she would have had to go to the terminal end to elude me and my stuff. But she really wanted to so elude and she kept – unsuccessfully – reaching for the next container and muttering in some language unknown to me what I assumed were curses upon me and all others of my ilk when I took it instead.
I had put my mind in neutral somewhere between the First Class security line and the place where I had taken off my shoes. When I had finally ceased being the bain of the young mother - that bain having been my use every container required by my vast array of carry stuff - I went into a sub-diimension of consciousness. I was preparing for what I knew would be a harrowing series of examinations of all that stuff. All I wanted was to get to the Red Carpet Lounge and I was ready for whatever level of self deprecation would be required to get through the expected impending examination. All but the concentration on inducing an appropriate mindset for groveling was gone from me. I knew nothing but that I had all kinds of things that were imminently going to be prodded, poked, unpacked, x-rayed and examined. I knew nothing but that I was going to have to explain all those things, and I knew that,even if my explanations won favor with security, I was still going to pay a price for being suspected of terrorost guilt: I was going to have to laboriously re-pack all of those things. If I had had any mindspace left for anything else I would probably have envied the young woman - recently behind me - who had only one item, that item which I had prevented her time after time getting into a container. As it was, I had forgotten all about her.
So it was a dual surprise when at the exit end of the scanning machine my stuff all came out just as I had placed it with no questions, no agents brandishing one or more of my items for deeper scrutiny and no requests to go to another location for deeper examination.
I just gathered everything up and left.
But the young woman with child was detained by security. By the time I had put my shoes back on she was still there. She had a whole bag full of unknown and unknowable creams, fluids, ointments and liquids. Security was going to get to the bottom of that.