Milwaukee – Travel day today. Got my fashion magazines, cushy neck pillow, breath mints and a boatload of patience. Also critical: my keen people-watching skills. Airports tend to rate right up there with the County Fair, Walmart, and Bristol Renaissance.
Had my first encounter already this morning with TSA agent Ben. Short, stocky guy, lots of red, white and blue TSA official security patches, and it was apparent he did not want to come to work today.
“You can go ma’am. I got this. No need to stand and watch,” he said.
I’ve been through this before. Lost a pedal once; next time a pair of shoes. Once, my luggage didn’t’ arrive at all. I’m sure I made TSA Ben nervous, but I was staying.
TSA Ben tore into my bike box like a Rottweiler and he smelled meat. I tried to remain calm although I could feel a cold sore breaking out on my upper lip.
Vigilant TSA Ben took out the air mattress: swab, test for explosives, and unroll. Next was the sleeping bag: swab, test for explosives, and unroll. Then he went deep into the box and wrestled the tent to the top. I could feel another cold sore forming. Swab, test for explosives, and unroll.
I was sweating and TSA Ben soon would be. He lackadaisically slapped together the air mattress. By his technique, you could assume he rarely made his bed. Then, as I had figured, he couldn’t get it back into the bag.
He still had the sleeping bag and tent left to go. A bead of sweat ran down the side of his face and crawled under his collar. I could only assume TSA Ben never got far in Scouts. “Ooops…sorry, ripped it,” he said, “I’ll get some Duct Tape.” I cringed, took a couple deep breaths and just prayed I wouldn’t break out in shingles…again.
The episode ended much like it started. The bike box got flipped, tipped, scanned and finally shipped. TSA Ben left saying, Well, now I need a nap.” (He’s a government employee, right?)
On a more positive note, American Airlines is a fan of the tour and they were completely behind raising awareness for Alzheimer’s. The airline agreed to waive the fee and fly the bike for free.
It’s those small kindnesses that really make my day!