An Airport Adventure
The airport was a place full of everything, but more than anything, it was a place full of noise. Wheels squeaked, feet shuffled, and loudspeakers crackled and sputtered. People mumbled and grumbled and chatted and groaned about long waits and long lines and long walks to Gate 43 – or wherever their next flights were supposed to be boarding. Every few minutes, someone shoved, bumped, tripped, crashed, whined, grumped, or shouted his way into the momentary spotlight of the only somewhat startled eyes of a cluster of passersby. When my gaze could be drawn away from the stains and specks and scuff marks on the grimy, gray carpet stretching as far as the eye could see, I would imagine for a moment that I was in a city full of skyscrapers – and all of them were walking around.
I could remember having ridden in an airplane once, when I was very small. My mom had given me a book that was shaped like a lion and put it in the big, blue pocket stretched out on the back of the seat in front of mine. I liked airplanes a lot. I could not, however, recall having been through an airport in the past, so today’s adventure was particularly exciting.
As I eagerly scanned the carpet for treasures that I could collect (I especially loved rocks and those curvy plastic sticks that people took out of their shoeboxes), I began to notice a growing cluster of feet and wheels ahead. I was informed that this was airport security.
Nobody here seemed happy, but I could not fathom why. Up ahead I could see a curving, broad conveyer belt carrying suitcases, backpacks, and bins full of shoes through a giant metal box that resembled some sort of a scaled-down car wash. My dad told me the box was an x-ray machine. This insight did nothing to clear up my confusion as to the lack of enthusiasm of my fellow airport patrons; per my own experience, x-rays were actually rather fun!
About that time, my family was pulled into one of a number of parallel lines. An officer stood at the front, asking each person in turn whether he had any sharp objects or liquids in his bag, then dismissing him to the x-ray device when he inevitably said no. And so the pattern went – until the man immediately in front of me didn’t say no. He said, “I have a pair of scissors.” In a firm but very calm tone, the officer informed him that he would be required to either pay to place his bag amongst the checked luggage or leave his scissors behind at this point in security.
The man’s face turned red and his eyes lit up as though someone had ignited a fire behind them. Evidently, the thought of abandoning his scissors was akin to that of abandoning his firstborn son. He stomped and he yelled. He screamed that this was unfair. He said he needed his scissors, that they were tucked away safely, and that they wouldn’t do any harm.
But his tantrum was to no avail. The officer merely repeated his original ultimatum, and the man dejectedly handed over the scissors he so treasured, drooped over as though weighed on by defeat. But, as he turned back toward me, a diabolical spark returned to his eyes, and a most unsavory sneer spread across his now-wrinkling face. “It sure is a good thing you took those away,” the man scoffed, “I was going to cut a hole right through the side of the airplane.”
Officers seemed to appear from thin air – lunging, grabbing, grunting, restraining. Even I was aware that the man’s statement had been sarcastic, but as the officers dragged him away, my dad told me that they had to take the scissor-lover’s odd comment seriously. At the airport, apparently, there’s no room for humor. A new officer stepped to the front of our line and beckoned me forward. Suddenly, my enthusiasm turned to trepidation, and I squeezed my big stuffed tiger extra tight.