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Humor, Grace and Airport Security
By Erika Hoffman

(Page 1 of 3)

Dad is 88. He lives with me. About every 7 months, he flies from my house in North Carolina to my sister’s home, near Chicago. It is doable, but it’s not easy, especially in these days of color coded alerts.

When we make the airline reservations, we order wheelchair transportation. The attendant can swiftly propel us though security check points and down long airport corridors more effortlessly than if we push Dad ourselves.

This past May, I scooted up to the United Airlines counter for my courtesy pass so that I could accompany Dad to the gate and sit with him until his plane departed. I also needed to get the wheelchair attendant summoned. I had parked Dad by a leafy, potted plant before I got in line. I was the next customer at both stations. However, at one counter a frazzled lady got into an altercation with the ticketing agent and called him ‘rude’; he replied that he was just doing his job and could not book her changes with her constant talking. He said, “I’ll just stand here and you go on and tell me all you need to say and when you are finished, I’ll type in the information.”She began jabbering, seemingly unaware of the sarcastic intent of his remark. At the other kiosk & counter, there were three very hefty women with their three, tiny yapping dogs. The agent was bending over backwards to accommodate their needs. At one point, the couple behind me who was accompanied by a US soldier asked the first clerk if it was difficult to use the kiosk without help. To which he barked, “If you can read, it’s easy.”

I thought to myself: Hold back, be patient, keep your eye on the ball, which is getting the courtesy pass. Finally, the dogs and their owners scurried on their way. The clerk who was exceedingly patient with them seemed miffed when I asked for a courtesy pass. He sighed audibly.“Do you have id?”I handed him my passport not wanting to waste time on words. He ran it through some machine and announced, “Oh, this is not working.”Since my documentation was valid and since I spied that worried look on Dad’s face, I found my gumption.

“I get courtesy passes all the time. My dad is quite old and is sitting over there.” I pointed at him. “This is not a time consuming process." He then handed me the pass.

What I thought would take mere moments consumed 20 minutes! Before I entered the ticketing line, I told Dad what I had to do. Trouble is he forgets anything I tell him after ten seconds. So, I swiveled my head around every half minute to glimpse my aged father shifting his weight and darting his eyes around with a frightened expression, searching for me. I knew he was going to get jittery soon and start complaining.

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