Saturday, September 10, 2005

Close Enough

I’m a pro at airport security. I have all my stuff organized way in advance of the trays, screeners and detectors. My cell phone is in my bag, shoes are untied, all metal stowed, boarding pass and ID at the ready. Usually I sail through.

Today, of course, was different.

As I unloaded my two laptops into the X-ray trays one of the officials looked down and asked me why I had two computers.

“Well,” I replied, “I need two computers. This is my work computer,” pointing to the Dell on the left, “and this is my test computer,” pointing to the Dell on the right.

“Never seen that before,” the official frowned.

Uh oh, I thought. But, before I could get too wound up over the impending inquisition a sight greeted my tired eyes like a supermodel waitress gliding out of a mirage.


Over there, just beyond Security lay a Starbucks kiosk and it was empty. No line. No waiting. The lady behind the counter, wiping down the coffee machines, turned, looked me in the eye and winked. “Come hither,” I heard.

Through the fog I heard the security guy talking to his supervisor. Words like “never seen that before” and “just plain weird” and “we outta check it out” drifted by. I didn’t care. I was focused on the Starbucks and the prospect of a plain, black, grande Coffee o’ the Day burning the skin off the roof of my mouth. I could feel the pain.

The Supervisor came up to me and asked “How come you got two computers?”

I suppressed the obvious retort, “What’s it to you, Officer Fife?”

Instead, I pointed to one of them and said, “That one’s broken. I’m taking it back to the office to fix it.”

“Oh yeah?” the officer questioned, “Prove it!”

I took the laptop with the dead battery, opened the case and leaned on the power button.

Nothing happened.

“You try,” I offered.

The Supervisor pressed the button. Nothing happened. He picked up the laptop, held it over his head like and Etch-n-Sketch and shook it. Nothing happened.

“Huh,” he said, “guess you’re right. Carry on.”

He turned and bellowed to the staff and passengers alike, “Move along! Move along! Nothing to see here! Move along!”

Hastily, I pulled on my shoes, stuffed my laptops back in my bag and sprinted to the Starbucks. Good thing I didn’t tie my shoes because several passengers had the same idea and were heading my way.

Ah, ha! I beat them all, except for a short non-descript lady in front of me. I had Pole Position Minus One. Black Coffee-of-the-Day here I come!

The lady in front of me had her purse open and she was going to pay cash. This was going to be quick! I fought to stay conscious.

Purse Lady placed her order: vanilla latte iced Jamacian walnut syrup frapaccino walla walla bing bang and a Kalamazoo.

Starbucks Girl wrinkled her brow and inquired, “Banilla? What banilla?”

“No,” Purse Lady replied, “vuh-nilla. With a “V” as in Victor.”

As in “venom” which was starting to build in my spleen.


“Oh, lookit that?” Starbucks Girl exclaimed, “I broke my wax pencil. Second time today!” She rummaged around in her supply drawer and drew a blank. Finally, after much rattling around she produced another wax pencil and wrote “Banilla” on the cup.

At long last the drink was produced. Starbucks Girl said “That will be $2.97.”

“And a banana muffin,” Purse Lady continued.

“What?” Starbucks Girl asked.

“And a banana muffin. That one in front with all the crunchies on top.”

Starbucks Girl put the banana muffin in a little bag, tap-danced on the register and said, “That will be $4.26.”

“And a grande Columbine, room for cream.” Purse Lady continued.

“Columbine?” Starbucks Girl asked, “We don’t have a Columbine.”

“Right there,” Purse Lady pointed to the special of the day: Colombian dark.

“Oh, you mean Colombia, not Columbine. Colombia!” Starbucks Girl was quite pleased with herself for figuring this out. Meanwhile, the line had grown behind me and several people had celebrated birthdays.

Starbucks Girl totaled the bill and announced, “That will be $6.13.”

Purse Lady rummaged through her purse and pulled out a $50 dollar bill. “Hang on a second,” she said, “I think I have the thirteen cents.”

Obviously desperation was showing on my face by this time. The crowd behind me was starting to shuffle and mumble things. It didn’t sound pretty. I was thinking that before I got trampled I could get a few punches in…

…when the Starbucks Guy appeared, looked at me directly and asked “What would you like?”

Well, you didn’t have to ask me twice. “Grande, coffee-of-the-day, no room for cream!”

In a flash Starbucks Guy had my drink in his hand. “Two thirty-two,” he said.

I gave him a five and told him to keep the change. Although I had two hours before my flight left I sprinted to the gate, found a seat and proceeded to burn the roof of my mouth.

Whew, I thought, that was close.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great story! Reminds me of my airport security encounter a couple months ago. I had my 20 mo old son in the backpack carrier, 6 mo pregnant, with a diaper bag and a carry-on. They pulled me aside for a special check, had me remove the backpack, and then wanted to frisk the baby! I thought, "Hon, the only thing he's packin' you DON'T want to find!"