I pack and pack -- 58 boxes in all -- until it's time to catch the plane from RDU to LaGuardia. Then I
pack some more, prepping a box for the TV, for when it comes back from the repair shop; then I pack some more, opening up
Box #58, half-filled with books, in order to stuff my dirty clothes, my new Python book, and an odd and an
end -- there wasn't enough room in my carry-on luggage to bring everything with me.
So I'm running several minutes late, at least if you count as I do, "late" meaning you've failed to arrive one hour before the
scheduled departure of your flight. But all goes well, and I head for Gate C6, walk through the metal detector, and set off the
beeps. I step aside, remove my change, offer to take off my multi-zippered black leather jacket, but metal-detector-guard
#2 has me raise my arms, while he passes The Device around me. I passed.
All the while, I'm taking glances at the other station, the X-ray conveyor-belt one, where my carry-on bag and laptop bag have
already passed through -- I don't want the laptop to be stolen. After being sent on my way by the genial metal-detector-guard
#2, I walk over to my bags, and conveyor-belt-guard #2, quite dour and serious, asks "Are these your bags?", and before I can
go "Why, yes! And thanks for looking after them for me!", he asks me to open them; this I do, and I'm asked to open a plastic
bag inside the carry-on bag. I give him my unopened, still-in-the-box Black and Decker cordless screwdriver. He and agent
#3 study the box; I explain the contents ("it's a cordless, rechargable screwdriver..."), and point out that there's also a
hammer in the bag -- suffering from temporary brain cramp, I was thinking in terms of the metal in the hammer tripping off
the metal detector. Agents #2 & #3 send me back to the entrance to the terminal, where I must have my hammer and
screwdriver packed in a box and checked in as baggage, because
I'm a potential hijacker.
I dutifully do as they say, leaving myself way past my one-hour-before-the-flight rule; I still have to convert my e-ticket into a
real one as well. I go back through the metal detector
(a formality, since I think they turned it off for me), sending my bags
along the X-ray belt. Grim conveyor-belt-guard #2 beckons me over again, with the same "Are these your bags?" question --
he remembers me, but I resist a wisecrack
. This time it's the laptop bag; I offer to open it, but the agent
takes out a small brush; my mind wanders elsewhere for a sec, waiting for him to ask me to open the bag, but it looked like
he was brushing bag debris (tobacco crumbs, ashes, cat hairs...) into a plastic scoop for "study", because
I'm a possible drug-runner, drug dealer, or drug fiend.
I passed whatever test it was. Your tax dollars at work
. The rest of the process was uneventful; I got aboard, we took off,
landed, and sat around until the plane could make its way to Gate D2 at LaGuardia.
I was, silently, in my Edina
voice on the New York City
side of the trip, taking public transportation back to
Brooklyn; of course, the "real-life" Eddie probably couldn't navigate a subway
station, much less take the time to complain
about it. The M60 bus (the one you ride to get back to Manhattan) stops, a few stops before the Triboro Bridge, for some
undisclosed reason, so we all have to wait for another bus to arrive -- a bus that's already full of people headed to Manhattan.
So two loads of us are packed into this thing, and I, ever chivalrous (or something), was among the last to board; the only
place to stand was in the doorwell, brushing against the side door. After the driver warned me against touching the door --
since these doors open rather easily by design -- we were off. I grabbed onto the nearest pole for dear life, fearing some lurch
would throw me against the door, and I'd go flying into the Triboro River (or whatever the hell it's called) at 60 mph.
...but I get to my 125th Street stop, where I can catch the train(s) the rest of the way. It looked like it usually does late at
night -- mass confusion over re-routed trains, thanks to the never-ending construction (usually a problem with the 4). I made the mistake of thinking I
needed to be on the upper level, then had to run down the stairs to catch the arriving downtown 6 train. The 6 is a local, making all the stops
between Harlem and the beginning of downtown Manhattan; the express 5 would have been a better fit, but I was tired,
didn't feel like waiting for it, and wasn't sure if it was still running for the evening. My consolation was that I didn't have to
change over to the 6 downtown, since I was already aboard. I sighed. Pats took another swig of her vodka. We get to Union
Square, where I'd normally make the switch to the 6, and the conductor says "we'll be skipping local stops...", i.e., skipping
my stop (Canal Street, where I transfer to any train that will take me across the Williamsburg Bridge); continuing
my policy of not getting up, my only option is to keep riding, switch tracks (from southbound to northbound), and then the
next stop from there is Canal. Fine. I take a swig from Patsy's bottle and try to remember if the TTC has ever exasperated
me. It's not too late to send my 58 boxes to Toronto.