I look at it as the fastest way to get there, but you know, flying just isn’t fun anymore. Mostly that’s because of all the security problems that we have had in the past 15 years. One terrorist tries something and then we all have to put up with additional screening that might save our lives.
There was the shoe bomber, so now we have to take off our shoes until we are 75 years old. Another tried to use combustible liquids to blow up a plane. So liquids are limited and have to be shown unless there is a TSA pre-screening certification.
That brings me to my first story. I was on vacation and had rented a car. As you all know when you return the rental car, it has to be full of gasoline just as it was when you received it. I stopped at the gas station and filled up the car just before arriving at the airport. That’s when I noticed that my hands smelled like gasoline. I made a mental note – I need to wash my hands. When I arrived at the airport, everything was busy and I saw a long TSA line and thus forget about the handwashing. That was my first mistake.
I went through the screening where you hold your hands over your head and stand still. When the machine was done, all kinds of things were visible on me. But it was probably the zippers on my slacks that were responsible which led to another mental note – don’t wear those slacks while flying again.
TSA personnel did the usual pat-down and, of course, found nothing. But the agent then said, “We have to screen your hands for accelerant.” I’ve had that done before and thought nothing of it. They run a little brush across your palms. This time mine set off all the big warnings. I knew right away it was the gasoline I forgot to wash off my hands.
I began the typical speech – I know this is from the gas I put in the car, explaining why it’s on my hands. Of course, they weren’t interested in my explanation and pulled me over for another full screening. They then took every single item out of my carry-on bag and my purse. When something creepy like this happens, it makes me so glad I’m not a last minute arriver at the airport. I had plenty of time and this took some time, but then I was off to the gate and on to the plane.
Some of the TSA workers are very pleasant, as were these ladies, but strict about doing their job. OK, that’s what we pay them for (or at this writing, aren’t paying them).
We often fly Southwest Airlines and it is usually on time unless there’s a weather situation. That brings me to another perk in flying Southwest. Employees can be entertaining while trying to make the influx of information at the beginning of the flight seem more palatable. After my preflight experience at the airport, Southwest Airlines was just what I needed.
The humorous instructions given before the take- off were a delight. You know all that stuff that you’ve heard 100 times about your seatbelt, oxygen masks and flotation devices, which we tend to ignore. They have found a way to entertain and make you think about those instructions because you’re laughing.
The male flight attendant began with saying to fasten your seat belt. That’s a basic thing. But then he added, “If you can’t figure out how to do it, just tie it in a knot and we’ll see if we can get you out of it when we get to Fort Myers.” Then he quipped, “We will be traveling up and down the aisle checking to see that you have your seat belt on, because we just don’t trust you.”
The instructions continued about the oxygen masks dropping in the unexpected event of cabin pressure change. He said, “We don’t anticipate that happening and if we did we would’ve called in sick today. If oxygen masks are needed, put the mask on and alcohol will begin flowing.”
And as we were ready to take off he said, “Just to make the flight attendants look more attractive, we will dim the lights for departure.”
After that, we had the basic terrible flight with so much turbulence we could not get out of our seats. All the flight attendants were asked to stay seated quite a bit of the time. Just to top it all off, the landing was a big “THUD” onto the runway. None of us liked much of that, but as we left, the flight attendant said, “Now just like my mother told me when I was 18, get your stuff and get out!” More reason to laugh, and another safe and interesting arrival.
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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