Stick ‘Em Up

imageBill and I were feeling pretty smug when we headed towards security at DIA on Saturday morning. We had spent a nice night at the fancy schmancy Westin Hotel at the airport because our plane left at 6 a.m. Even so, we got up before 4 to ensure we got through security in a timely manner.

But, you see, the reason we were feeling smug is because for reasons we still don’t understand,we were pre-approved by TSA. What did that mean in practical terms? We didn’t have to take off our shoes or belts, and our electronic devices could remain snuggly in our carry on luggage. Should be a breeze, no?

No. Oh, Bill got through in record time, but I was apparently giving off DANGER DANGER DANGER vibes.

First, I was “randomly” selected to go through the fancy x-ray machine instead of the simple machine that Bill walked through with no problem. You know, the machine where they see me in my entirety as I helplessly hold my hands above my head. Randomly selected. I should have headed right out to purchase a lottery ticket.

Except I couldn’t because they carried away my black and white chevron striped bag after it had gone through x-ray with terribly concerned looks on their faces. Like perhaps they had come face to face with a terrorist. Wearing flip flops and a cross necklace.

As Bill patiently waited (he had passed security), they began rooting wildly through my bag.

“What’s the matter?” I asked. “We’re looking for the CO2 cartridge you have in your bag,” he said angrily.

CO2 cartridge? I don’t even know what that means. Oh, I know what CO2 is, and I know what a cartridge is, but I also know I don’t have one in my bag.

“Well,” I said patiently. “What would be something normal that isn’t a CO2 cartridge but looks like one?”

And I swear to you that he said, “There isn’t anything else it could be. You have a CO2 cartridge in here.”

By this time, Bill has joined me, and I asked him what for what reason anyone would have a CO2 cartridge. “If you had a pistol,” Bill replied, looking at me warily. Which I didn’t.

In the meantime, Mr. TSA was still desperately searching every nook and cranny of my bag, going through every pocket and getting more frustrated by the minute. Terrorist suspects bring out the worse in TSA agents, and for good reason.

Finally he said, “Well, I’m going to put this through the x-ray again and find out where that cartridge is.

Okey dokey. Because by this time we were approaching boarding time.

He came back in a few minutes and said, rather sheepishly, “Do you have something in here that is a cylinder and has a key attached?”

Yep. Which I would have told him if he had answered my question about what else could resemble a CO2 cartridge.

The little carrying case attached to my key in which I carry Bill’s extra pills.

And so I was let go without having to spend time in a holding cell and the crisis was averted.

Here’s the thing. I respect TSA and would prefer they err on the side of caution. But so much time could have been saved if he would just have considered that what he saw could be something else other than a CO2 cartridge. I mean, seriously. An old lady in flip flops.

Saturday Smile: It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere

Bill and I were at the airport in Denver very early last Tuesday when we were heading back to Denver. In fact, after we went through security, it was 6:30 a.m. when we sat down to have breakfast at Jimmy’s Bistro in Concourse A. Bill went to get some cashola from the ATM and left me the job of ordering our breakfast. When the server arrived, I placed our order, and then jokingly said, “I was going to order a Bloody Mary since I’m afraid of flying, but 6:30 a.m. is a bit early, even for me.” She smiled, and told me, “I know, but the fact of the matter is if you had ordered it, I wouldn’t have been able to serve it to you until 7 o’clock. We aren’t allowed to serve alcohol until then.” She added, “The irony is that here in Colorado, you can legally buy pot any time of the day, but no alcohol before 7.” That made me laugh.

And finally, if you are the one and only person in the entire United States of America who hasn’t seen this video, enjoy…..

Have a great weekend.

I’ll Get You There on Time

img_supershuttleI haven’t always been terrified of being a passenger in a car. In fact, I used to be able to sleep in a car, feeling no need to provide assistance or advice to the driver. I didn’t clutch the door handle in terror as I do now.

Three things are responsible for my passenger terror: 1)Bill was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease; 2)I had a perforated bowel; and 3)I was in a car accident — not my fault — in which the front end of my yellow bug was destroyed by another car. How did these three things cause me to become the passenger from hell? I learned that stuff happens over which you have no control.

The thing is, for inexplicable reasons, I’m not generally frightened when I am a passenger in a bus, a shuttle car, or a taxi. I’ve tried to think why that is, but I can come up with no viable reason.  But I can almost always sit back, relax, and leave the driving to them.

I say “almost” because yesterday’s ride to the airport was an exception to this reality of my life. I wasn’t just nervous; I, in fact, was certain that I was going to die.

Bill and I have taken to using the services of the Super Shuttle to get to and from the airport In Denver. Our primary reason for doing this is because our recent airplane trips have been at unreasonably atrocious hours — either at the crack of dawn or in the dead of night. It seems unfair to ask any of our children (who have their own children) to join us in the wee hours of the morning or late at night when we can shuttle for $60 round trip for both of us. Therefore, Super Shuttle provides our rides.

Yesterday’s ride started out innocently enough, with our driver arriving on time and greeting us cheerfully despite the fact it was 5 o’clock in the morning and the sun was only barely showing its face. After we got settled, he began our drive. Bill, being friendly and having a couple of cups of coffee under his belt, asked him if we were his first passengers. Nope, he assured us. He had been awake since 2:30 am and had already made a trip to the airport.

It didn’t take long before we realized this was going to be a trip like no other. As he roared down Tower Road, it appeared he was not going to be put off by nuisances such as red lights, even if there was a car stopped at the lights.  I literally sucked in my breath and grabbed Bill’s leg as it appeared he had no inherent plans to stop as we approached a red light. I believe the noise that came from deep in my throat alerted him that he had a nervous passenger, and he slammed on his brakes just before the intersection. But then it happened again. And then again. I finally realized he wasn’t sleeping; this was simply his driving style. If Super Shuttle has some sort of award for the driver whose brakes last the longest, our driver should begin practicing his acceptance speech.

At one point, Bill (who pretty much lets nothing bother him) leaned over and whispered, “Is your rosary somewhere within your reach?”

For the first time in my life, I realized with utter certainty that it is true what they say about air travel being safer than car travel. I’m happy to say we arrived safely at the airport and I will begin my novena that we get a different driver on our trip home in a little over a week.

Our plane ride, by the way, was flawless.

That’s a Wrap

imagesThe pastor at the church with which we are affiliated in Denver doesn’t have much of a sense of humor, I’m afraid. He’s pretty important, at least within our archdiocese. He’s a monsignor, and told us Sunday that he had been appointed by Pope Francis to be some kind of muckity muck for our archdiocese during the pope’s Year of Mercy. But he doesn’t seem to laugh much. To his credit, when he does laugh, it’s usually at himself.

Nevertheless, he started his homily Sunday (on which we celebrated Christ’s ascension into heaven) by saying that Jesus could have shortened his remarks to the apostles prior to his ascending to heaven by simply saying, “And that’s a wrap.”

I’m not sure why, but that tickled me.

That’s a wrap. I’m all finished with everything. I successfully did all the stuff my Father asked me to do. I came; I saw; I conquered.

And it wouldn’t have been a wrap at all if he hadn’t ascended into heaven, because that, like the rest of his human life, is a model for our own lives. We are born. We live a good life. We die. And through the grace of God, we go to heaven. At the end of the day, just as Jesus, we are only here for a short time. And though we feel as though we are in control of the world, the world belongs to God, and we are only in the world, not of the world. We are really of God.

We flew home from Chicago on Saturday after spending a few days with Bill’s mom. We knew the weather in Colorado was going to be iffy, but the plane left on time and we kept our fingers crossed.

A few hours later, the pilot came on the intercom with words to this effect: Good afternoon. This is your pilot speaking. The good news is that we are only 80 miles away from Denver. The bad news is that the airport is socked in with a severe thunderstorm and DIA is closed until the storm passes. So we are going to fly around Colorado until it reopens or they send us elsewhere. It’s going to be bumpy, so suck it up.

Seriously?

I began my usual panic.

What if the plane runs out of fuel? What if we run into one of the other planes that is flying around Colorado awaiting the reopening of the airport? What if the turbulence is so strong that one of the wings falls off? Does this mean I’m going to miss watching the Kentucky Derby?

Poor Bill has his hands full.

But behind us was a mother traveling with three children. One was a babe in arms who slept through the entire thing. The other two were maybe early elementary school, and found the whole thing to be very exciting rather than scary. Oh, to be a child again.

At some point they began to entertain themselves by singing, in rounds, a song that they must have learned at church or maybe from a Christian school.

Praise be the Lord, we sing hallelujah. Praise be the Lord, we sing hallelujah. Praise be the Lord, we sing hallelujah.

That was it. There might have been other words, but those were the only ones they sang, over and over and over.

At first I thought, “Oh no. They’re going to drive me crazy because I’m already stressed.”

But suddenly I realized what they were saying, and I realized it was a prayer, whether they knew that or not. So I began singing it quietly to myself.

Praise be the Lord, we sing hallelujah.

We made it down safely. The plane had enough fuel. The wings remained firmly attached. I didn’t see a single other plane.  I missed the Kentucky Derby, but so what. We lived.

He is risen and is back with his Father awaiting all of us.

Praise be the Lord, we sing hallelujah.

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