Douglas Adams began the book The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul with the observation that there is no expression "as lovely as an airport". Someone, however, has done a lot with Newark Liberty International. And you'r thinking something like jeeebus, isn't that the place where all those hijackers got on that flight and then flew it into the World Trade Center? Man, that place must be security hell.
It is and it isn't. My... hmmm, let's see, Fabian is married to my husband's... hmmm, let me see, July Andrea is both his first cousin and his first cousin once removed, so Fabian is my husband's first cousin (once removed or not) by marriage... which makes me and Fabian...
Absolutely nothing. So let's call Fabian my "charge" and ignore how someone can be someone's first cousin and someone's first cousin once removed, and let's focus on getting the little bugger onto the plane to Juan Santamaria Airport. Fortunately, the flight departed from Newark, an airport I know how to get to and how to navigate to some extent.
This little white girl was expecting some flak. Imagining the drama to ensue happily occupied me during the morning rituals of breakfast and shower. By the time I was flipping pancakes, I was picturing myself in a small room somewhere, being accused of masterminding a covert operation to smuggle Costa Ricans into the US as underpaid and abused laborers. To which I would happily plead guilty, as most people don't think I can handle long division, much less mastermind anything.
Once fed and packed, communicating with Tarzan-like Spanish, Fabian piled into my car with me and within a surprisingly short time, we'd negotiated the Garden State Parkway, found a very good spot in daily parking, and figured out how to get into the Continental Airlines Terminal. So far, no one even looked at me or him funny. Some airline employees actually smiled and said hello.
Checking in was easier than figuring out what Fabian wanted for breakfast because the airline staffer spoke fluent Latin American Spanish. The doll, I wish I had brought some cookies for her. The security guy who would be checking and loading our bags made what seemed to be an unreasonable request. "No, not that way. Please walk around over to... yes that's the entrance." And then he cushioned the request with the explanation "See, that side of the cordon is technically the exit, and if people start coming in from both sides, we're going to have an accident." It was a flow thing. I understood.
The security checkpoint was just like you see on the news, only no news cameras and people telling other people that it was "Terrible. A terrible inconvenience." T'wasn't. They gave us each a bin and told us to put our things inside, including our shoes, and to walk through the scanner. Yeah, ok, eeewww, bare feet and germs and nasties, oh my. I must be a simply filthy human being, because it didn't bother me even a little. One girl got stopped because she had contraband. Yep, that small, blonde, chubby girl with a hearing aid and a tee-shirt that proclaimed her one of about fifty foreign exchange students had a LIGHTER! She was told to check it in a baggie that the airlines would make sure she got when she landed. She said "ok".
Now I have to admit, I sneaked something in I probably shouldn't have. It was a crochet hook. And not a big one. It was one of those little sharp buggers, the steel ones that you use with thread to make doilies. It was in a pocket of my purse along with some pens. If I held that thing between my knuckles and punched, man, I could blind someone for life. Oh yeah, I thought of that myself. Of course, I am the one who fantasizes about shoving her ex-boyfriend's head into a toilet with one stilletto-heeled foot. Oops, did I write that out loud?
Now, if I had determined to hijack an airplane with that crochet hook, here is the question: Would the other hijackers give me mad cred for the swank of it, or would they make fun of me and say things like "what, no tatting bobbins? No embroidery hoops?" I wonder.
But the thing is, no one bothered me, and despite his brown skin and questionable legality in this country, no one bothered Fabian, either. We just marched on through and had a little lunch in the food court, which was as nice as the food court at the Garden State Plaza or The Menlo Park Mall.
Here's the thing, and I think most airline employees and people who have to deal with this on a daily basis realize this: less than twenty people have tried to use airplanes to destroy this country. Several million have used them to get from one place to another. I can't feel the way so many others feel. I have to feel the way I feel. Airports are not so bad. Most people aren't bothered so terribly by all the security. Whether it works or not depends upon how creative those who would seek to hurt us can be.