Posts Tagged 'Airport security'

Hawaii

Hawaii had served us well. Eleven of us came and eleven went home. Kids, grandkids, and faux family members spent a week living in a rented house on the Maui seashore. Although the house was not as pretty as its pictures, we sucked it up, went snorkeling with the sea turtles, played pool in the den, and wrestled with the petulant wi-fi.

And we ate. Costco was our dear friend as were the smaller shops in the neighborhood. We drank, made sandwiches out of anything that didn’t move, and nibbled away at stuff that came out of cellophane packages with a list of ingredients that should have made us sick but didn’t.

The weather was cooperative, reaching 90 degrees most days and what seemed like 100% humidity every day, all day. We had neglected to check on the house’s air conditioning. When we did, we discovered its absence. I spent a lot of time thinking about my childhood in Chicago, where much of the summer was like Hawaii but without the azure blue ocean and the gentle trade winds.

Every night had a planned event. With three rental cars, daytime was left to the imagination. We went to the obligatory luau where, after a few alcohol laden Mai Tais, we seemed to be as much on display as the performers were.

My favorite event was a dinner and magic show at Warren and Annabelle’s in Lahaina. Around nearly 25 years, it’s much like Hollywood’s Magic Palace but on a shrunken scale. I couldn’t stop laughing and remembered doing the same thing at a 1990 Jackie Mason show at the Fonda Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

Everything you’ve heard about how expensive things are in Hawaii is true. Fortunately, everyone takes credit cards. I came to Maui with less than $200 in cash. I came home with all but $25 and a list of purchases on my credit card that scrolled off my smartphone and onto the kitchen floor.

The last full day of our adventure brought Jackie and me to the Montage, a hotel that believes everyone should live like a millionaire so that it can be deposited with them before leaving the Island. Apathetic about spending nearly $2,000 overnight for a bed and bathroom, we instead settled for his and her massages. Although the cost at the Montage made the Ojai Valley Inn look like a Motel 6, the outdoor setting, warm breezes, and expert masseuses left us with a memory that will linger a long time.

Then, with the food and the money gone, we were off to the airport for the flight home.

Kahului Airport is about 45 minutes from our rental house, just about enough time to learn how to pronounce its name. There are only 13 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet, five of which are vowels. The ratio of vowels to consonants probably accounts for the repeated use of the letters U and I in many words, like Kahului. The opposite title, the one for the most letters, is held by Cambodia with 74 including 12 vowels. Phnom Penh is my favorite word displaying their predilection for P’s, N’s and H’s.

Before we began our Hawaiian trip, we were warned by friends to allow a lot of time getting through Maui security on our return trip to the mainland. Many of those friends, having never even visited the Islands were echoing the warnings of their friends, who were echoing other friends, and so on. Jackie’s hairdresser, Joyce, was prominent on the list of those who believe that being early means getting there the night before your trip and sleeping on an airport bench. But Joyce can be discounted because of her failure to be on time for anything, including hair jobs.

Some of us were willing to ignore the warnings. But, having paid for most of the trip, my influence had some importance. It also confirmed the absence of any morning alcohol that might have made my companions less agreeable. A first-hand report from daughter Nancy who had left the previous day confirmed things, “Better get there three hours early or you’ll miss the plane and have to sleep in the parking lot. It’ll be awful. People will die.”

So we left, three and a half hours early. My normal we’re never going to make it to the airport routine starts with mild concern, then escalates to silent hysteria. I sat back and imagined likely disasters that included sea monsters rising from the deep Pacific and blocking Highway 30.

But Godzilla was busy with other assignments and things went well until we stopped for gas to avoid paying $20 a gallon to Enterprise Rentals. The gas station was super-saturated with others who refused to be robbed by car rental companies. We were only a mile from the airport, but I was sure we had crossed the Rubicon, would miss our plane, and much like Sisyphus, be doomed to cruising the highway for the rest of our days.

I had never seen anything like it. The TSA security line, like a sleeping Python, wound around the inside of the airport and didn’t seem to be moving. It exited the airport building and continued to twist itself up and down the sidewalk. We marched to the end of it, probably in Honolulu, and deposited ourselves. I guessed that the first person in line probably had arrived last winter.

We were surely doomed. I began to think about spending a night at the Montage and doing it all over again in the morning. Or maybe two nights.

They had even brought out the drug sniffing dogs. Even though I didn’t have any pot, I added it to my list of things that will make me miss our plane. I smiled at the doggie nearest me in the hope that it would recognize my innocence and lack of any criminal intent.

A TSA security woman came up to us and pulled us out of the line. Why would they do that, I thought. Maybe they had found out about my cheating on Mrs. Nudelman’s fourth grade reading test. Or for playing “Doctor” with Brenda Goldberg when I was ten. Too late for sure. We’re going to miss our plane.

And then she said, “Follow me.” We would have followed her anywhere; anything was better than the living hell we had just come from.

Suddenly we were at the front of the line. She had randomly selected me as an old guy who needed help. She hadn’t noticed by bulging muscles and had instead focused on the crevices in my face, much like those in the Grand Canyon. It was the luck of the draw.

I didn’t have to remove my shoes. I was waived through the x-ray machine like Lady Gaga.

We spent the next two and a half hours sitting at the gate.

Sometimes being old has its benefits.


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