A Tribute: Loud Lady
Business travel woes. We’ve all been there. When I fly home after a business trip, the last hour or so of the flight is always a happy kind of torture. At the point I hear the *ding* and the flight attendant announces we are making our final descent into the San Diego area, I think I have the landscape memorized; each lake, each mountain, each stream and each little landmark right down to the baseball diamonds along the way. Suddenly to the north Balboa Park appears. I look out to the south and then there is my home touching the sky! No matter how drained I might be – and yes, the travel does sometimes do to that me – I smile and I do a little hop up and down in my seat. I even make fists, shrug my shoulders and squeal just a little. Yes, it’s true.
For the most part, I am used to all of the rigamorole of traveling for my job. Whether it’s waking up at the crack of dawn to catch a flight, dealing with a different set of TSA rules at just about every airport through which I pass or getting myself through security check in less than 30 seconds I am a pro. But there is one thing I don’t believe I will ever get used to: THOSE passengers. And if you were in the security line in the Austin, Texas airport this early afternoon you may have witnessed first-hand one of those passengers.
Ahhh business travel woes
Standing in an unusually long line for this particular airport, most of us could overhear the woman ahead of me exclaiming to her travel companion, quite emphatically, she would not take off her shoes. “Oh no. One of those,” I thought to myself. I will refer to said woman as loud lady.
Now, I was tired. It was a long week. I had been gone since Sunday. I was to have less than 40 glorious hours at home until I leave for Japan and two hours with fiancé until he had to leave for the night shift. Soon enough I had reason to conjure up images of the airport security line being brought to a complete halt, security phoned in, missing my flight and kissing my sweet 40 hours good-bye.
Upon approaching the latest and greatest scanning mechanism the TSA politely requested loud lady remove her foot gear. She declined. He asked her again. Meanwhile, most passengers in line were growing impatient and encouraging her in the way of Nike to “just do it.” Loud lady grew louder. TSA number two grabbed a walkie talkie. Ugh.
While I am not proud to admit this, I was ready to give her a verbal lashing. Who did this woman think she was to stand between me and my 40 hours?! Then, as the TSA made a gesture with his hands toward her in an attempt to calm her down, loud lady raised her arm as though to she was going to sock it to him! I took a deep breath and spoke up. It went a little something like this:
Me: “Ma’am! Do you mind if I skip ahead of you?”
Loud lady, a bit surprised, gave me a look that told me she wasn’t having any of it. I think she was ready to take me on!
In desperation I pleaded with loud lady:
“Ma’am, I know this sucks. And everyone here, including myself finds this inconvenient and a bit undignified. I understand your case, but I just really want to get home to my fiancé. You see, he is in the military and I frequently travel for business. Our time together is so limited and I have 40 hours at home; two of which I will get to spend with him before he has to leave. So I am asking; will you please comply with this man’s request? I am pretty much begging you right now. This means THAT much to me.”
I am sure I looked pathetic. I certainly felt it. But wait! Is that pity I see? Why, yes. I think so! Loud lady glanced at her friend who in turn nodded at her as though to say, “Go ahead.”
And then it happened. Loud lady removed her shoes. And people patted me on the back. And a few even clapped. I thanked her and went on my way.
I stuffed myself into the seat on my overcrowded flight and closed my eyes willing the minutes to fly by. No pun intended. Then the baseball diamonds appeared…
Perhaps had loud lady made contact with her fist to that TSA’s face there still would have been time to make my flight. It just wasn’t a risk I was willing nor that I wanted to take.
So loud lady, wherever you are, I want to thank you for reminding me that it is better to catch flies with honey than vinegar. I hope you and your shoes are resting safely somewhere really pleasant for you tonight.
Those two hours? Damn they flew by. But you bet we made the most of them.
What are some of your business travel woes? Do tell in the comments!