Unforgettable: Scenes in an Airport

January 7, 2008 - 2:30pm -- swingbug


I watch a security officer search my husband head to toe with a metal detector wand. Behind him, an endless sea of travelers coalesce into orderly lines. They put their liquids in this bucket and their shoes in that one, opening bags with camcorders and laptops and shuffling through metal arches in silence and stocking feet. I’m sitting just clear of the security area holding my husband’s boots and herding our luggage together. Just behind me, a live musician plays “Unforgettable” on a harp. What blows me away about this scene, as the security officer inspects my husband’s belt and the contents of his pockets, is how often our freedom of speech is quelched without messy legislation. The people here in line examine signs displaying dangerous contraband, everything from bombs to 4 oz tubes of toothpaste, with blank looks on their faces. Some must want to turn to their traveling companions, as I do, and comment on the utter pointlessness of this ritual, but none dare, lest they be singled out to be searched as well. Control by fear. Follow the cow in front of you.

My husband rejoins me. “We will either look back on this time and laugh,” he says, while lacing up his boots, “or reminisce.”


The sound of the harp has faded into the background. In the food court near our gate, I stand in line at Starbucks with 30 other people. I glance across the breezeway. Not 5 yards away from me is a sign over a boarded-up construction zone saying, “Starbucks Coming Soon.”

I rejoin Shawn at our gate and sip my corporate tea while trying to ignore a television screen telling me about how our country is yet again refusing to join other nations to discuss the reduction of greenhouse gases.


Shawn and I are sitting in neighboring seats at the gate holding crochet hooks and balls of yarn. From time to time, he holds out his work for me to check. I’m working on a project for Christmas. Shawn graciously volunteered to learn to crochet to help me. Over the intercom, an airline employee informs us that Southwest Flight #265 will soon begin boarding and passengers with “A” boarding passes should now form a line. We stow our yarn and queue up with the other passengers.

An older man in a business suit is in line directly in front of us. He turns to us as if to say something, smiles, nods, thinks better of it, turns around again. A few minutes go by. He turns around once more, with a bashful smile. “I remember when I learned to crochet,” he eagerly tells us. “People used to look at me funny, but not so much anymore.” He tells us about afghans he’s made and asks about our project. We talk about scarves and socks and yarn texture.

The line begins to move. We board the plane and part ways.

Maybe we’ll all be okay after all.