Our Sweet Sarah Beth

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Terrorist name: Gusher

Sorry I've been away so long! I got a few good scoldings this week for not posting, but I've been away recovering from Deena's snub. I have many things to post about, but first let's talk about Texas. I have never seen a state more proud of itself than Texas.

Seriously, all the local businesses have "Texas" in the name and use the star or outline of the state in their logo. Even the waffles at our hotel were Texased.


See? Texans also have a penchant for using the letter K where it does not belong, ie Ken's Kwik Stop and Kammy's Kountry Kitchen. One of my pet peeves. But I digress.

One thing that Texas does have going for it is that my sister and her husband (and soon to be niece) live there. So I made the trek a few weeks ago to visit. We had a great time, but that's not what this post is really about.

The truth is that I think I might be on a government watch list. I guess I was kind of suspicious looking, showing up at an airport without any carry on luggage. I mulled this over while packing for my trip. I knew I had a layover in Houston both ways, and I really didn't want to be lugging any extra stuff around between flights. All I really needed was a book, and that would fit in my purse.

I've been on a few flights before, and no airline has ever lost my luggage. Plus, I was flying Southwest, and they love bags! They would be the last people to lose my luggage. So I decided against a carry on bag. A decision that would come to haunt me a few hours later.

At the airport, I was waiting in line to board the plane when I noticed a security officer looking me up and down from across the waiting area. He spoke into his walkie talkie and then headed my way. Of course I was nervous. He asked me to step out of line and come with him. He then asked if he could look in my purse. There was a lot of stuff in there. He helped himself to all of it. I guess he finally decided I didn't have any bombs in there and reluctantly allowed me to board the airplane. It was kinda embarrassing. After they let me get back in line, the guy who was standing behind me remarked, "I didn't think you looked like a terrorist."

I thanked him for his vote of confidence.

I made it safely to Houston, and after my layover and another bag inspection while waiting to board (I kid you not) I was on the plane waiting to take off for Midland. I had a window seat this time, interestingly enough sitting next to a woman wearing one of those white masks. You know the kind you see people wearing while they mow their grass? I don't know if she had been doing yard work earlier that day or just didn't want to breathe any of my recycled air, but either way we didn't speak. Which gave me ample time to gaze out the window and watch the man toss our bags into the plane.

It was reminiscent of the Southwest commercial where the guys load up the bags and then wave goodbye while wiping away tears. "I'm really gonna miss those bags." I halfway expected him to wave after he finished loading, but he didn't. I know because I was watching him drive away. I didn't see him wave, but I did notice two lonely bags pushed to the side of a cart left on the runway next to our plane. He forgot to load two bags. And one of them was suspiciously similar to mine.





I realize it's hard to see in this photo, but that is a red suitcase with a hot pink tag on the handle. I had a very clear view of it from my window seat. I began to panic. The baggage man was gone, and we were cleared for takeoff. I snapped this photo for evidence and emailed it to Meredith with this message, "On my way to Midland. God help Southwest if that is my bag sitting on the runway."

I didn't know what to do. I thought about flagging down a stewardess and mentioning it to her. How much trouble would it be to page a baggage worker to just double check that bag and make sure it wasn't mine? What if I held up the already delayed flight for them to look at that bag and then they determined it wasn't mine? Then I would really be embarrassed. After my terrorist scare, I wasn't up for any more attention. A lot of bags look like mine. It's a very common suitcase. And all of the transfer bags have hot pink tags on them. Right? I decided to keep my mouth shut.

And then we started moving. I was sure I would arrive in Midland sans luggage, and I was kicking myself for not saying anything AND for not at least packing a change of clothes in a carry on bag.

Wow I have told a long story, and now I'm tempted to lie and say that it was indeed my bag on the runway. It was not. My luggage was waiting for me in Midland, and I took back all the bad things I said to myself on the flight about Southwest not really loving bags.

The return trip was almost as eventful and began when Meredith dropped me off at the Midland airport Sunday afternoon. Meredith had packed me all sorts of goodies for my long trip back to Mississippi: fruit roll up, fruit by the foot and Gushers, the delicious candy with a liquid center! I was looking forward to enjoying something other than peanuts on my flights that night.

I went through security without setting off the metal detectors, but my purse did not pass the xray scan. The lady examining the bags frowned and pointed at the screen to something suspicious. So the security man took me aside and looked disapprovingly at my purse.

Security Man: Do you have any weapons in here?

I resisted the urge to make a joke about how I usually carried a grenade launcher because he didn't look like the type of person who enjoyed laughing.

Me: No sir.

Security Man: Nothing in there that's going to hurt me if I go through it?

Seriously? Again, no.

So he begins the process of inspecting every item in my purse and finally pulls out a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer.

"WHAT'S THIS????"

Hand sanitizer, sir.

He scrutinized it for a while, then let me slide on that one, surprisingly enough. Then he hit paydirt. The packet of Gushers. He pulled them out and slowly inspected the packaging.

Security Man: "Gushers, huh?"

My face turned red. What was I, five?? Foiled by the delicious liquid center. I tried to explain that my sister had packed them for me but ended up feeling even more foolish for trying to defend the gushers.

Security Man: "That must've been what she spotted on the screen."

He actually smiled at this point, obviously feeling my pain.

"Well, it looks like everything is in order here, and you got your gushers, so have a nice flight."

He winked at me, threw the gushers back into my purse, and let me go on my way. I was sorry I passed on the grenade launcher joke.

On the flight, a steward asked me if I would like a drink. I asked for a Long Island, because I really felt like I needed one, and he looked first confused, then concerned, then apologetic. "I don't think we have that, ma'am. I'm sorry. Can I get you something else?"

"That's ok," I told him. "I got my gushers." And I enjoyed every last drop of my liquid contraband.