Trip on plane causes more pain than gain

Sunday, February 6, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:25 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Our recent jaunt to the West was a stark reminder of why I love traveling in our motor home. When I pack for a trip in our motor home, I can choose to include anything I want — within reason. I don’t have to spend hours putting outfits together. I have plenty of room to put half my closet in the rig (of course, my husband would have to pack lightly). I can bring stacks of catalogs and several books, my laptop computer and even my crocheting — just in case I decide I want to knit a new scarf.

But because we flew to our destination this time, I had to limit what I brought for the journey. I thought I’d play it smart, so I packed one gigantic suitcase. Since our destination was Arizona, I went to the attic and found my summer clothes. Instead of packing my usual 10 pairs of shoes, I decided on three pairs. I brought enough clothing for the seven days we would be away, plus one extra outfit in case — in case one of the outfits didn’t fit, in case one of the outfits made me look fat, in case one of the outfits had a stain … well, you get the picture.

I also packed a carry-on. That’s where I placed my bathroom. You know, all of the stuff you use first thing in the morning. I’ve been told the wise traveler always puts a change of clothes in the carry-on, but I never have enough room.

When we went to the counter to get our tickets, the clerk weighed our bag.

“You’re 5 pounds over,” she said. “I’ll let it go, but you probably won’t be as lucky on the way back. They’re not as nice in Arizona.”

My husband gave me a look, saying it was my fault.

“Great,” he grumbled. “Now we’re going to have to buy another suitcase for the trip home.”

Our flight to Dallas was uneventful. We had an hour layover, so when we got to the airport, I decided to step outside to have a cigarette. BIG MISTAKE. Getting out of the airport was easy. My husband sat down with a book, and I walked about 50 feet to a sign that read “Exit.” I opened the door and walked another 50 feet, and I was in the great outdoors, puffing on my bad habit. When I soon started to retrace my steps, I was stopped by a large woman who was scowling.

“You’ll have to go through security again,” she said.

“But I just went out for a second to have a cigarette,” I said meekly, feeling like I was facing the principal back in high school.

“Doesn’t matter,” she said. “You still have to go through security.”

She pointed down a hallway that I was to follow. “Fine,” I thought. “I’m a team player.”

When I got to the security checkpoint, the line snaked around the room with more than 100 people waiting to pass through. GULP. I looked at my watch. My plane was going to leave in 40 minutes, and passengers would be boarding in 20. There was no way I would make the flight if I had to start at the back of the line.

I went up to one of the security guards and explained my dilemma. She was not the least bit sympathetic. She told me I’d have to find a kind soul to let me in line. I perused the room of strangers, but it seemed everyone was staring down at the floor or looking away. I took a deep breath and approached a young man of about college age.

“Would you mind if I cut in line?” I asked.

Apparently he didn’t speak English, because he just stared rather than answer me.

I tried again — this time I chose a woman of about my age.

She looked me in the eye and said, “Sorry.”

Panicked, I stood there. It’s times like that when I wish I were more like women who can well up with tears at the drop of a hat. I wanted to belt somebody. Finally an older woman took pity on me and let me in line. There was a collective growl from the crowd and evil stares from some, but I managed to get through security and back to my perturbed husband as they were announcing the flight.

It was a bumpy beginning to our week away, but I put the incident out of my mind. We were on vacation.

This is part one of a two-part story. Next week, you’ll find out why we don’t go away often.

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