Thursday, August 10, 2006

Like I need this?

Who could be calling at this hour of the morning? I look at Saga as I pause the game we were playing. I have not even turned on any lights yet. I look at the caller ID on the phone. It's Mary.

"Do you know what time it is?" I asked affecting a grogginess that my voice would not have had naturally. The clock by my bedside read 03:00. The fact that I had been up for nearly half an hour didn’t need to be advertised.

"Sorry to wake you," My sister responded, not really sounding all that sorry. "but I think it is time for you to get up, watch the news and hydrate your dog. If she is flying today with you she will need to be hydrated."

"I know that! That is why there is a water dish in her kennel." I reply. Instantly, I dropped the pretense at being roused from slumber.

"No liquids on the plane today, sweetheart." Was her reply. "Turn on the news."

I do not know how, but my sister is able to discover all the things that might impact my travel and tell me about them before I can hear the news myself. She would probably tell me it was a gift. (If it is, I wonder if she got a gift receipt. I'd try exchanging it for a bicycle or something.

This morning, as far as I can tell, the British police arrested some number of persons for trying to bring down jetliners headed for the United States. (Reports vary widely as to how many were arrested, and how many planes they were plotting to attack, but all the reports agree on one thing, my trip today is going to be a lot more difficult to make than the one I made three days ago when I came home from the UK.

The time compression of telling a story in retrospect is a wonderful thing. For example, you needn't hear the gory details of my calls to the airline to get details on whether or not Saga could fly today, the new regulations on what is and is not allowed as carry on, and the last-minute cajoling to get my dog to drink some water before getting on the plane.

The airport is suspiciously busy for being only six o'clock in the morning. Luckily, aside from my computer, and my dog, all the rest of my luggage can be curb-checked. My briefcase (containing my laptop) will be on the plane with me and the dog will require special handling inside the airport. But what are all these other people doing here? There cannot be this many people wanting to fly to Fort Lauderdale this morning, so what gives?

Apparently, they all heard the same thing that I did on the news: "Pack some patience, and arrive early." I don't know about packing some, but I am certainly using some up. My mobile has been beeping all morning. My first message coming from friends back in the UK; before 06:00 AM I have burned through about a quarter of the credit I topped-up with on my mobile before leaving London. That's Okay. That is why I got the tri-band phone!

The lines at security are longer than I have ever seen them. I eschew the normal route of taking the bridge to the concourse as the train station has more screeners at its entrance. It turns out to be a good choice. The line for this security screening area snakes throughout the terminal lobby and off toward the west side of the building. But the one on the bridge not only reaches the lobby from the bridge (A distance of about 200 yards) but also wraps around the entire mezzanine. I would say at a guess it is nearly a quarter mile long queue! I do not remember the lines being this long; not even the time that the trains broke down and they had to empty the airport and re-screen everybody.

It takes nearly an hour to get cleared through to the concourse. I am now sitting in the departure area. I can tell: This is going to be one interesting weekend.

I hope that wherever you are today, your day is going according to plan!

Don Bergquist - 10 August 2006 - Denver International Airport, Denver, Colorado, USA

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