Thursday, October 08, 2015


I flew last week for the first time in ten years. Its nerve wracking. I mean, my whole life I’ve been challenged by being in the right line, at the right time, in the right place. That’s how I ended up in the library instead of gym in the first grade. It never got better for me. I always manage to grab the wrong stuff from the wrong place too. That’s how I came to be wearing hip pads where the knee pads go in 7th grade football.
And the most confusing thing in the world to me? Detailed, step-by-step instructions.

So you, experienced traveler, must be able to imagine what a nightmare it was for me, if only in my mind.
I was like a cat on a hot tin roof. I wasn’t sure if I should drop my bags off and then go to remote parking. I lucked out, chose correctly  and went to remote parking first. It was pitch black, 4:00 in the morning dark. The lady said just go down this aisle, park, and the van will be along to pick you up.
Really? How can I trust that? I visioned myself standing there for 30 minutes, past my flight time.
But no, by the time I got out of my car, there was the van.

Once in the terminal, I stopped to see the statue "One Riot One Ranger", and thought about my dads story, the one I swear I heard a million times about Capt. Jay Banks. I looked around to see if there was anyone there I could tell my story to. I guess I'm glad there was no one there to tell.

I stopped at a Kiosk. It said I could get my bag checked there. I punched in my Confirmation number and it spat out one of those big bar code strips to put on your bag. On the outside it had detailed, step by step instructions for peeling the tape and applying to you bag. I started to peel the tape, and a lady stopped me. I was doing it wrong.
Big Surprise.

In line now for the big TSA screening and check in. Am I in the right line? How can I be sure? I see a sign that says "Priority". No one is in that line. Its probably not for me. I step up to the man that wants to see my boarding pass. I hand it to him. He keeps looking at me, expectant. I stare back at him, eyes glazed.
"Your drivers license?" he says, and points to the big sign that says

How the hell did I miss that? He is very kind though, glances at my picture, nods, and says ""Ah Mr. Renfro! Have a nice trip!"
Thinking back now, and the amused way that he said it, I have wonder were there other Renfro's that failed the DL presentation test? Maybe its not just me. Maybe its genetic.

By now I have identified the lady in front of me as being a pro at this. She is kicking off her shoes, removing her ten rings, 14 bracelets, 6 necklaces, watch, and is now removing certain items from her carry on, and into the bus tub. I do what she does, except I don't have a belly button ring to remove.

I catch her eye.
"Ma'am, what about my medicine. Do I have to take my medicine out of my carry on?" I hold up the big baggie I have all my medicine in. I'd heard you were supposed to do that. But then I had read it was supposed to be in a 1 quart bag. Mine is a gallon. I have lots of medicine. This worries me.
"No" she say, in a thick but friendly New Jersey accent. "We used to have to, but not anymore. Make sure you take the toiletries out."

After stepping out of the Rotating X-Ray machine that I've heard pretty much tells them everything there is to know about you, an Agent pulled me to the side.
"Mr. Renfro, do you have something in your right rear pocket?"
"I don't think so"
"Do you mind if I check?"
"Oh please do."
Gingerly, the Agent reached into my pocket and pulled out two sticks. They were the two sticks from the Corny Dogs I'd eaten the night before.
He smiled at me.
I grinned back and said "Huh. I wonder how those got there?"
"We will have to throw these away Mr. Renfro. Do you mind?"
"Yes, please do."

So, that was my trip in a nutshell. The return trip?
It was just as bad. The SEATAC Airport has a whole different system.

Even when I returned home, I didn’t trust the return to my car at Remote Parking.
“How will they know where I’m parked? I cant remember” I said to no one in particular in the Van.
I tried to ask calmly, but I’m sure my eyes were a little wild. One could smell my fear.
The lady sitting across from me tried to calm me. She made a downward motion with outstretched hands, and said “Don’t worry. They just do.”
“I guess I got trust issues, Huh?” I said.
“Ya think?” she said, and smiled at me kindly.

Thanks to David at LIVE AND LEARN for inspiration for this post.


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