Heading home from Seattle...what a great flight! Yes - you heard me right. It was a great flight! Alaska Airlines, nonstop to Kansas City. On a large, clean newish 757 with COMFY seats. Fly Alaska!
I suppose I should give a quick description of my TSA experience prior to this flight. I have no idea what it is in my demeanor or actions that makes me a magnet for TSA attention. That Spouse o' Mine and I entered the security screening area. A TSA lady looked at my ticket and then his, and said something to the effect that our tickets were different, and one of us would have to go to Pre-Screening and one would have to go to the other screening. I looked at her, puzzled, and she said impatiently, "Oh, you two just both get it THAT line." and pointed thither. So we lined up behind what seemed like a dozen switchbacks of people lined up with their bags and kids and strollers and animal carriers. We meandered through two of those switchbacks and that's when I noticed the sign over yonder that said "TSA Pre-Screening." Hey! That's what my ticket said on it! And even better, there was no one standing in THAT line. I showed it to that Spouse o' Mine, and he agreed: I should go over to that line.
So I stooped under the tape that was corralling the herds, and all of a sudden, these two TSA people swooped down on me. The BIG man yelled quite sternly at me. "Oh, no, no, NO! You can't be crossing under like that! You get back in that other line!" "But my ticket says I should be over here." "You can't be moving out of one line into another one!" "But this is what my ticket says - See? It says I should be over HERE." The BIG woman stood over me frowning. No, she was scowling at me. I calmly showed them my ticket. I opened my mouth to say something more, but the BIG man shut his eyes and motioned me on my way to the Pre-Screening line. I'll have to say, I was on my way to the plane in a flash!
I still have no idea what any of that was about. What an odd experience.
Alaska Airlines: happy crew, good service, and clean, clean, clean. I had the the fun of having two unaccompanied minors sitting next to me, two girls who looked to be maybe 7 & 9. Coloring books, Wimpy Kid readers, sack lunches sent by Mom, ("She told us they wouldn't feed us on this plane.") and they were sweet kids. The time flew. (Ha ha.) Upon landing, the younger sister asked the older what would happen if the plane couldn't stop at the end of the runway. The elder replied that it would probably hit something and that we would all hit our heads on the seat in front of us. She mentioned something more about wearing seatbelts. And then she turned to me and told me that their uncle had not been wearing his seatbelt once and the plane couldn't stop and he hit his head. I replied that I bet he wears a seatbelt now! And she replied matter-of-factly, Well, he's DEAD, now.
Arriving in Kansas City and heading out to the Long-Term parking, I noticed a military guy approaching, waiting for the same shuttle. "Fort Riley?" I asked. "Yes, Ma'am". The three of us began talking. He was from a tiny town called Appalachia, Virginia. He has a fiancee. He is about to be deployed (Yes: you guessed it: Iraq). "What do you do?" I asked.
"I'm a sniper."
You know, I am fairly conversant with most people, but I had no reply, no reply at all to this information. I smiled in silence. Thankfully, our shuttle arrived and we climbed on. I turned and told him, "Thank you for your service and good luck in your deployment."
Off the shuttle, the wind was remarkable. And so I did. "Holy Mackeral, it's like a wind tunnel!" and some man called over his shoulder, "You're back in Kansas!"
And so we are...