In Austin we had arrived at the airport with over two hours to kill before we could board. KM and our daughter, Alexis, went looking for shops while I went in the other direction, looking for a sports bar, which could be a metaphor for my life.
I soon found one called “The Rose of Tyler,” named after the great Earl Campbell. I found a table near the guy in the corner, who was picking a guitar. This was Austin after all. I got my beer and set my laptop bag under the table and my brown paper gift bag with the two Christmas ornaments I had found at a cool shop on Congress Avenue.
I texted the girls, telling them where I was, and they soon arrived. We drank a couple of beers, listening to Mr. Mellow Guitar Man, killing airport time.
The smell of hot dogs made us hungry but we went looking for something else to eat, at the request of the ladies.
We found seats near our gate, and KM and Alexis walked over to the food court.
I watched the people pass and thought back to an hour earlier, when KM had looked down at her boarding pass and seen the words “TSA Pre-check,” which is always a good thing to see.
She grinned her smug, “nanny nanny boo boo” grin at Alexis and I and funneled herself away to the empty chute that led to easy passage to the gates beyond. But then I did something smart, unintentionally, which I guess makes it lucky.
I said to the lady who separated the haves from the have-nots, as I pointed at KM, who swished away, never even looking back, “She’s my wife.”
“Then you go here,” the gatekeeper said as she blessed me. I was so excited, I forgot about Alexis, who I heard behind me say “DAD!”
“Oh, right, and she’s our daughter.”
“Yes, her too then.”
TSA (Transportation Security Administration) Pre check is a pre-screening initiative that lets a select group of passengers move through security checkpoints much quicker and with little hassle. Basically, it’s wonderful. To promote it, airlines are randomly choosing people when they book a flight, hoping they’ll love it so much they’ll pay the $85 for two years. If you travel much, it’s well worth it.
Alexis and I walked quickly and unimpeded, and we soon caught up with KM, who had come to a line.
“Are ya’ll going to beat me?” she asked. This was now my goal.
I showed my boarding pass and driver’s license to a guy in a security uniform, who said thanks and told me to have a blessed day.
I feel blessed in this line, I thought.
The next uniformed guy motioned me forward and swabbed my hands with some invisible solution, which turns visible, I think, if you have been handling explosives or the wrong body lotions.
My hands passed, and I walked into the full-body scanner, shoes on, after placing my roller bag and my laptop bag, without removing laptop, on the security conveyor. I had put two bags and my cell phone in a bowl. When I finished with the body scan, I waited, and after checking to see if I was still ahead of KM, I saw my bag coming through. Right behind it was the bus boy tub with my laptop. I saw KM out of the corner of my eye, grabbed my stuff and, determined to beat her, quickly raced ahead, faking left and then jumping another traveler’s luggage, just getting there ahead of her.
The “The Rose of Tyler” would have been proud.
Jay Edwards is editor-in-chief of the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.