Monday, September 1, 2008

LAX: Pre-departure Exploits


My first entry in this travel log came unexpectedly quickly -- I was still in LAX.

The night before I left was a disorderly flurry of laundry, books, documents, and snacks. My good friend Elisa came to my rescue and promptly remedied my time-consuming practice of ordering my clothing into sections (pants section, shirt section, sweater section, etc.) by grabbing something from my mess of a bed, asking, "Do you want to take this?" and, if I answered in the affirmative, stuffing whatever-it-was into the nearest gap in the previously segregated architecture of my suitcase. Her way was faster even if it made me cringe a little.

Thanks, Elisa.

Packing the odds and ends of my life into 2 up to 50lb suitcases went deep into the night. At some point, Elisa crawled over the migrating mess on my bed and nested there until she fell asleep around 1:30am. What a sight. And what a friend :)

But what prompted me to chronicle this morning was not the frenzied packing/suitcase cramming routine. The fun really began once my mom and I got to LAX. As if it weren't bad enough having to drive to LA at 3am, we get to the security screening point and she gets a remarkable case of Embarrassing Parent Syndrome (EPS). The hug and big kiss were were not a big deal.

Not embarrassing.

What is a little awkward is standing there juggling my shoes, laptop, passport, purse, backpack, and boarding pass and having her holler for me to turn around for a cell phone picture. The line behind me is HUGE. Well, sizable, at least... Anyhow, I smile for the picture and make my barefooted way over to the x-ray machine while she stands on the other side of the plexiglass and keeps waving and waving. Her EPS is beginning to present itself.

I make it through the x-ray machine and metal detector without cause for excitement until the metal detector...technician? --until the metal detector guy says, "Hey, you! Ma'am!"
I look around for some rule-breaker; some disobedient traveler.

My glasses had to go through the x-ray machine, so I barely put those on and dip my toes into my right shoe when I realize that metal detector guy is looking right at ME!

"Ma'am, you need to come back out here. They need you to come back out."

I was terrified that I had accidentally put a hunting knife in my purse or that a razor blade had found its way into the sole of my shoe. I thought I was in trouble for sure. But no. I lop-sidedly over to the TSA inspector, and she walks up to me with a cell phone camera.

"No," I say preemptively, "You must be joking."
"No, ma'am, I'm not joking. She wants a picture of you. And this time I'm going to save it."

I look past the security personnel and see my smiling little mother standing there expectantly. Her EPS is of the more persistent variety.

"Oh, no," I sigh and smile for the photo. The TSA agent makes me stand there until she's sure that the picture is saved. I wave goodbye to my mother again and hobble back to where my laptop, passport, and backpack lie ready for pick up at the end of the x-ray conveyor.

"Your shoe," the metal detector guy stops me. "You need to put that shoe back through x-ray."

I do, and finally wave goodbye (yet again) to the little soccer mom on the other side of the plexiglass. You better believe I packed up my shoes, computer, and backpack lickety-split and hurried off to my terminal where I could sit and write about how much my mommy loves me! :)

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