Monday, July 4, 2016

Lines and Whines. And Orange Chicken.

Greetings, WYMOP readers!
So, Sunday night I came back from Colorado, and as usual my trip through the airport was . . . eventful.
If you’ve never been to Denver International Airport, you may not know what their security checkpoint looks like. Well, it’s big. Recently I’ve really only seen Logan International in Boston and Orlando International inyup, you guessed itOrlando, Florida, but compared to those two the setup in Denver is huge. Rather than having a security point at each terminal (which makes five in Boston, terminals A–E), they have a single point every passenger for every airline funnels through before moving on to their terminal. It gets really crowded sometimes, but it’s a terrific system, and one you can actually watch in action.
The area where they have the security setup is also huge, and you enter it on the second level. That second level forms a balcony, kind of an immense square 8, with a shopping/food court to keep you occupied while you buck up the nerve to stroll through the body scan machines. Can they tell I’m sucking in my gut with those things? Does anybody know?
Also, I almost always go to Panda Express for their orange chicken before I get on the plane, and I’d like to apologize right now to anyone who’s wound up sitting next to me in that little flying tube for three or four hours. And to anyone who I sit next to in future . . . look, that little air nozzle blows pretty hard, right? I’d make liberal use of that if I were you. Especially if I’m actually moaning and rubbing my stomach.
Anyway, you can look down from this double balcony, into the “holes in the eight” as it were, to watch the goings-on in the two security areas on the first floor. Each area is autonomous and not connected (publicly) to the other, but can only be reached (again: publicly) by the escalators at the top and bottom of the eight. From the balcony/shop court you can gaze over the railing and right down at the zig-zagging line of people waiting to shuck their shoes and jettison their jewelry—I don’t even want to tell you what they do with their belts—and go completely high school on them.
“Look at that bald spot!”
“Check out that hat. No . . . wait . . . strike that: it’s a rug. Holy crap, check out that rug.”
“Did her mother let her leave the house dressed like that? Oh, that is the mother? You’re kidding.”
Another fun—and useful—thing you can do up there is run back and forth and look from one security area to the other, counting noses and estimating numbers to see which side has the shorter wait in line. After a good round of orange chicken it’s more like mediocre jog back and forth, unless I’m moaning and rubbing my belly. Then it’s a slow walk. And there’s whining involved.
So there I was on the night of my return from Colorado, slowly jogging back and forth, though there was no actual whining or moaning (Remember: air nozzle!). One side looked to be about average busy, but the other looked almost vacant. I didn’t even try to lug my big, fat, orange chicken-filled ass back to double check (besides, it was so far!) I waved SB over and brought her down the escalator to the mostly empty TSA security checkpoint, rubbing my hands with glee.
Okay, occasionally my stomach, but mostly my hands.
“Look at this,” I said, gesturing toward the nearly empty lane leading toward the scanning machines. “This looks like it may be my quickest trip through security yet!” I was already dreading having to suck in my gut, though I wasn’t actually moaning yet. I turned to SB to say goodbye, and I swear I only had my back turned for a few seconds. Ten at the most. Maybe twelve. Okay, it could have been fifteen, but I’m telling you it wasn’t long. But when I turned back . . .
 . . . when I turned back, the space leading up to that empty lane toward the machines was filled with children. Dozens upon dozens of children, all Asian, all around nine or ten years old. Obviously on a school trip to the United States, some were speaking English while others spoke in . . . something else. Cantonese? Mandarin? Japanese? How the hell should I know? I was busy watching them still coming around the corner in a long, long line.
“Wha . . .?” I said, followed quickly by, “But . . . where? . . . I thought . . .”
This was as far as I got in my intelligent commentary before the woman at the head of the Asian invasion (tall, thin and nasal), walked up to the TSA agent womanning the mouth of the path between the ropes (short, cornrowed, and less than thin—though shouldn’t that really be more than thin?), and sort of shouted at her in a flat, and yes, stereotypically Asian, accent.
“I have one hundred children. That okay?”
The agent replied, but it was drowned out by a shout from just behind me.
“Jesus! I thought this one was empty—what happened?”
I turned to see a group of four twentysomethings who had just come down the escalator, all gaping at the now full line ahead. I opened my mouth to tell them that Hell appeared to have broken open and it was populated almost entirely by children, but I was too late.
“Let’s go back to the other side,” said the original speaker. “This side’ll take forever now!” Then they all moved off at a jog—rapidly increasing toward a run—heading for the stairs back up the balcony to go all the way over to the other escalator.
Yup. Stairs. The bad kind: up.
I looked at the short army assaulting the TSA agents. I gazed after the rapidly retreating twentysomethings. I put my hand to my belly and moaned. I hugged SB once more, picked up my bag, and shuffled dejectedly to the end of the now long line.
The whining began.

Talk to you later!

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