Sometimes you have to be wary of being a target. I don't know what list I got on over the last several months but my travel back to Arizona last week was a comedy of errors and inconveniences.
The ride to Heathrow was smooth as silk. Forty minutes down the A1 and M25 straight into Terminal 5. We whizzed down the highway in a way only my friend Peter can do without being pulled over. Though I don't relish leaving, it's so nice of him to give us a ride.
At the airport check-in and security was a breeze but frustrating nonetheless. The attendant couldn't check our bags through to their destination. We had to pick up our bags at Kennedy International and slog them via the Skytrain to the Delta counter.
We found ourselves with about two and a half hours to burn before the flight. We had to then take a shuttle out to B Gates because we flew out of Gate B65.
After sitting in a very crowded British Airways lounge until my backside was close to blistering, we were summoned to board. After the wait, I was looking forward to boarding and beginning the journey. The attendant at the gate attendant took my ticket, scrunched up her nose, and looked at me like I was from Mars or at least a refugee from some Greenlandish glacier. She said, "Mr. Attenborough, please, go with this gentleman for additional screening."
The security agent swabbed every bit of gear I was carrying on the plane, including me. At this point, I was wondering if my nitroglycerine tablets would set off some explosives monitor. It is, after all, an explosive.
I guess there were no WMDs found and they let me board the plane.
When we got to JFK more tedious screening was in store. Instead of going through the US Citizens' line I chose to go through the "everybody else" line with Andrea. She used to be able to go through the US Citizens line, but something must have changed recently.
Anyway, I got the third degree from the immigration officer wondering what I was doing out of the country. I would expect that from the UK Immigration but because I am a US Citizen I was surprised to be scrutinized so severely. I am coming back to my own country after all. Nevertheless, we were allowed to pass and moved on to Customs.
Oh My God, another bout of additional screening. Are you carrying any meat? Do you have any fruit or vegetables? Are you transporting marijuana? Are you bringing any narcotics into the country?
At this time I was wondering what list my name was on and why was it there?
I was tired, frustrated, and just a bit intimidated by all of the patdowns.
JFK has to be one of the most inconvenient and illogical airports. The Airtrain is a fair walk from the terminal, and as we breached the outer doors to walk across the road to the Skytrain, I was glad I put a sweater in my luggage, and I was wearing it now.
I had been worn down, subdued. I was resigned to my fate and stoically made my way to Terminal 2 to check in to Delta and drop off my bags.
Oh - an aside. When we first booked our flights we thought we allowed enough time to make our Delta connection. Then Delta moved their flight up an hour. We had to rearrange our onward flight resulting in me becoming a lounge lizard for another almost five hours at JFK.
You'd think that was the end of the story. But no, it gets more tiring and more frustrating as time went by.
We arrived at the Phoenix Airport - The friendliest airport by the way, and received a text message, "Your luggage has not arrived as expected." That's not the kind of message you want to get when you've been up almost twenty-four hours.
A little good news here. The luggage arrived on the previous flight and was waiting for us at the Delta counter. Whew!
We had arranged a shuttle to take us home. The problem was, according to the dispatcher, "There's been a lot of cancellations and delays, and it will be about half an hour until someone can pick you up." Unwelcome news.
The shuttle finally came. It was a bit quicker than the thirty minutes promised. I thought that was great.
We got in the van and headed home. As we were approaching the turnoff to our house, the driver announced that we were first going to drop off the other couple in the van — a round trip of an additional forty minutes after we passed our house. I was just about ready to lose it.
Alas, I was too tired. I was too worn out. I was just too, too, too everything.
When I got home, I told the driver there was no tip coming from me. I said, "You seem like a very nice man, but I am so angry right now there is no way I could fathom giving you a tip."
I was home. I was asleep shortly after that. Bad dreams and all I was so happy to be unconscious, undone, un-awake. It was good to be inspecting the insides of my eyelids.
The next day was the next day, and when the sun came up, I was relieved of my anger and angst. Things look brighter in the morning.
Obviously, the target above is not original artwork so here's one of my drawings to amuse and entertain you.
Until next week, I wish you smooth travels, and I wish you peace.