I started this column in the Nashville airport, the Music City. I traveled up early last week, flying from Austin through Dallas and then to Nashville. This almost makes sense. My return flight is through Chicago, that makes less sense to me, but hey I don’t run a successful airline, so what do I know? If you have flown in the past 15 years, you have some idea of what you have to go through to get on an airliner. Trust me, I don’t mind the security checks; what I do mind is the inconsistency and condescending attitude at times from some of the agents. Don’t get me wrong; the TSA agents are way more polite and helpful now than they were just a few years ago. Surly and borderline-rude seemed to be the hiring criteria early on. Thankfully that has changed; maybe those agents have all transferred to the IRS (I probably just ensured myself an audit). I have met some agents that were just downright pleasant. That goes a long way to making air travel much more enjoyable.
As I sit here in Nashville, I am treated to live music and a fairly relaxed atmosphere. That seems to be the overall feeling of Nashville anyway. I have traveled to other big cities, and my Texas politeness seems wasted on people that are in a hurry or otherwise just not in the mood for someone holding the door or speaking to them. I am not the super-friendly person that strikes up a conversation with everyone I meet, but I do speak or have some comment. Most “Yankees” look at me like I am from another planet, which may be closer to the truth than they know. However in Nashville, people (locals) hold the doors for you and say things like “thanks” and “you’re welcome.” Odd, I know!
Back to the checkpoints: I started this trip in Austin, and they are a very secure airport. After getting my ID and boarding pass checked, I enter the maze that leads you through the x-ray and scans. I almost always carry my camera and usually a laptop, or two, well a tablet, depending on my plans for the trip. When I first started traveling with my camera, I was told to basically pull my camera bag apart so everything was visible in the scanner. As I was doing this one day in Baltimore, a TSA agent chastised me for holding up the line and informed me that I didn’t need to empty the camera bag. I did, however, need to almost undress to my undies before going through the body scanner. This trip through the first security point I had achieved the prescribed level of undressing and was well on my way through the line. Then I realized that I had left on my watch, my worldly belongings were entering the dark tunnel of the x-ray. As I started to remove my watch, an agent told me it was OK to leave it on. So I get in the scanner and somehow they noticed I had a bandana in my back pocket, the Texan version of a “hankie”. You never know when you might need one, so that is a common item for me to carry, and like my watch I didn’t give it a second thought. At this point I became the center of attention for a group of agents ready to disarm me of my bandana. Now I was in the military and learned about a lot of weapons, a square piece of cloth never made those lists.
Luckily for the agent that had to examine it, I had not had to use it for its intended purpose so far on my trip. Finally as I was deemed safe I made my way to the gate and prepared to board. The rest of that leg was fairly uneventful, save a delay due to rain from the tropical storm.
One thing I did notice was how attached some people are to their cellphones. The airplane wheels had screeched only once before several people in my immediate area were on their phones calling their mommies to let them know they were on the ground. Another potential issue is people coming out of the restrooms while checking their phones and people rushing in for their needs. This is just a major collision waiting to happen. Next week, from Chicago to home.