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April 13, 2009

Airport access

April 13. Day 287.

After 9/11, traveling got to be a nightmare for everyone. And an extra 1 percent more annoying for me, because I have an "un-American" last name. Not quite like Hussein or Ahmadinejad, but unique enough that at every checkpoint, at every leg of every journey, for about one or two years after the terrorist attacks, I was selected for "random" security screenings.

We'd all be standing in line, all these wary and weary travelers, looking at one another and wondering who'd be selected. And as we approached the agents, I'd be mentally rehearsing my smile. The easy going I don't mind smile. Because if you minded, there would be problems.

"Ms. La Roxy Daily Askerinobergsonkronchville sur la montagne de kadhafiski, could you please step to the right? I have a few questions I'd like to ask you."


My eyes glistened, cheeks rosy and nermal-cute, on command. Friendly. Cooperative. All American girl.

It was properly Pavlovian.

Now a days, the madness has subsided -- I've even seen a woman persuade TSA agents to let her bring her her expensive Korean acne medicine through security, even though it was a gel. Woah!!!

Now a days, in fact, airports are total minefields when it comes to asking -- goldmines, that is. Unless you're up against an exhausted employee (or intransigent moron), people are usually as accommodating as they can be. They're even reasonable.

All that to say that on Day 1 of our journey, I asked twice and received twice.

1. My mom and I got in line to check in. We were near the back, and just as I was settling into the routine of pushing the bag and shifting my weight from one foot to the other, an airline agent approached the line.

"I need a single traveler with one bag!"

No one moved.

"No one has one bag?"

People in line looked at one another again, hesitating. Was someone in trouble?

"I can take care of you in priority check in." True, the first and business class counter was empty. Who would be the lucky traveler?

Amazingly, no one moved. So then, I thought I'd try -- "We're two people but we only have one bag. Can we both come?"

"If you both only have one bag, I guess that's fine."

Gained I: 30 minutes or so. Which don't count for much since we were in an an airport, but it beat standing in that line.

2. When I booked the tickets, I tried to get an aisle seat for my mom, but I was told the last two seats together were in the middle of the middle section. Still, why not try again? I asked the same agent who pulled us from the line, "Is it too late to ask for an aisle seat? My mom likes the extra leg room."

"We're full, but let me see what I can do." Tap tap tap. "I did find two other seats. Here you go!"

Gained II: A more comfortable ride for my mother.
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