Yesterday we flew from Los Angeles to New York. Have you flown lately?
This was my first post-9/11 flight from a major airport. Usually Art and I like to fly out of Burbank (now renamed Bob Hope International). I keep wondering how it got to be international, because as far as I can see, the longest flight out of BHI is from Burbank to Nashville. Anyway, for yesterday’s flight we decided to brave LAX so that instead of having to change planes in Dallas or Chicago, we could fly from coast to coast.
So the first thing we had to do was take a taxi from our house (which is way out on the East side of town in the hills) way out to the extreme West side of town. We had to get up at 5:00 a.m. in order to be ready for the taxi at 6:00 a.m. Art made it known to the driver that he had already checked with the taxi company and knew that the approximate cost of the ride would be $37.00. The driver, who did not speak perfect English, pretended he had not understood. Art repeated himself carefully so that he was sure the driver had understood. I had the distinct feeling that this did not sit well with the driver. In any case, he zoomed us out to LAX like a bat out of hell. He dumped us unceremoniously at the Delta terminal and drove off.
I looked at the long line snaking out of the terminal and on to the sidewalk and wondered, “Why didn’t these people print out their boarding passes on the computer at home, like we did?” Then we got inside the terminal and quickly realized that these people were not waiting for their boarding passes; they were waiting to go through security.
The line snaked through the terminal and it took us about 15 minutes to get up to the head of the line. A couple of people tried to cut in front of us, but Art was having none of that. He scolded them and pointed to the back of the line. They looked red-faced and ashamed and dragged their sad little roll-around bags to the back of the line. As we got closer to the front, we realized that, not only did we have to lay our bags flat on the table to be X-rayed, but we also had to remove our jackets and our shoes. I thought to myself, “Good Grief! One misguided fool decides to turn his shoe into a weapon of mass destruction, and all these poor grandmothers and grandfathers and maiden aunts and peculiar uncles all have to take off their Weejuns or their Easy Spirits or their wing tips or their sneakers and stand there in their stocking feet. At one point, a man in front of me took off his jacket by lifting it over his head, and his shirt came off with it so that he was standing with his bare back to me in his bare feet and for a split second I had the uneasy notion that they were going to strip search all of us right there in front of God and all his children!
On the other hand, I guess none of us are totally immune to the paranoia of a post-9/11 world. I saw a woman wearing a veil a few rows ahead of me, and I actually wondered whether this was something I should worry about. Of course, I reasoned to myself, this flight is going to JFK, and it is a connecting flight to Barcelona, Morocco, and South Africa, so of course there would be people of all sorts on the flight with no plan more sinister than going home or visiting friends. But this is the natural result of terrorism, to have these thoughts. I told myself that I had to shake it off. You just can’t live your life cowering in a corner. (Even if, like me, that sometimes sounds appealing, given the right corner).
Anyway – for those of you who know me – you know that I was none too fond of flying anyway, pre-9/11. So it’s all the same to me. It boils down to this: Take my little “mother-of-the-bride” pill, and enjoy the ride.
Our flight was actually pretty smooth. There was a little turbulence, but I’m starting to understand that a little turbulence is normal. So I did pretty well. We had to rent a car and drive from JFK up to Connecticut, which was, as you would expect, pretty slow and riddled with traffic until we got about an hour outside New York. But the Connecticut landscape rewarded us with gorgeous trees just starting to turn colors and gently rolling hills that went through picturesque little towns. And we’re so happy to be here with Art’s family.
Now that we’re here, I’d say it was well worth it. Even having to take off our shoes.