(This humorous essay appeared in the Salem News on June 1, 2012. Reposted by permission.)
Last month, I attended the Erma Bombeck Humor Writers’ Conference in Dayton, Ohio.
People came from Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana and even California. As far as I could tell, I was the only one from Massachusetts. That is because it’s easier to fly to Juneau, Alaska, than to Dayton, Ohio, from here.
I realized this while scrolling through the airlines’ schedules. Dayton is a small airport with few flights from Logan and fewer nonstop.
Eventually, I settled on a US Airways flight from Boston to Washington’s Reagan International. Unfortunately, I had only 30 minutes to make the connecting flight to Dayton.
Should I not make it, there were few alternatives. Even in Washington, flights to Dayton were as scarce as pickle barrels. I pictured myself in desperation, boarding a Greyhound bus to Ohio.
Thus, I decided against checking a suitcase. If I missed the connecting flight, my suitcase could end up in Juno. Instead, I crammed everything into carry-ons.
My “pocketbook” was an enormous tote stuffed with clothes. When I reached in to pay for a headset, I pulled out my underwear.
During the flight from Boston, I glanced often at my watch. We were flying into a wind that would eventually morph into a storm. The turbulence created a drag, the pilot said, leaving me with only 20 minutes to make my connection to Dayton.
I showed the flight attendant my ticket, hoping she’d phone ahead: “Hold that plane!” Instead, she scoffed and said, “You’ll have plenty of time.”
When we landed and the doors opened, I resisted the urge to climb over the seats. I’d resigned myself to missing my connection at that point.
Imagine my surprise then to discover the flight to Dayton had been delayed by two hours. Thank you, US Air!
I found the gate and sat down to read. Later, I decided to go into the main terminal to browse the shops. As often happens, I got distracted. When I checked my watch, I realized my plane was boarding.
I rushed to the security checkpoint and got in line. As I walked through the full-body scanner, a security guard motioned to me.
“I have to go through your things,” she said, unzipping my bags. She took everything out, shaking the box of Cheez-Its along with my underwear. She examined my makeup case.
Then she said, “I have to feel you now.”
I heard her correctly — as did everyone else within earshot. It wasn’t a question, it was a statement.
“Do you mind?” she added.
What to say in a situation like that? If I acted reluctant, she’d be suspicious. On the other hand, if I acted enthusiastic, she’d wonder.
I nodded and glanced at the clock. My flight was leaving in 15 minutes. I cursed myself for straying from the gate.
As the guard performed her duties, I asked why I’d been singled out. It was my bra, she claimed. The multi clasps had created a blur on the screen. (Note to self: Leave bra at home while in the nation’s capital.)
Next, she sprayed my hands and forearms with a strong chemical.
“This detects the presence of explosives,” she informed me. I kept silent.
Finally released, I raced to the gate to find it empty. The monitor showed the delayed flight was now canceled. What?!
I approached a nearby agent.
“Didn’t you get our phone call about the cancellation?” he asked. Apparently, while I was buying Lincoln Memorial paperweights, US Air was calling my house to announce they’d canceled the flight.
“What can I do?” I wailed.
He checked his computer and said, “There’s a flight to Charlotte in 10 minutes,” then handed me a new boarding pass. “You might make it. I’ll take you.”
Together, we raced through the airport, the agent running ahead, me far behind, dragging my bags. Just like in the movies, the doors were closing when I staggered in, taking my seat on the tiny plane.
It was only after we were airborne that I realized I was going to Charlotte, which is in North Carolina. I’m no geography whiz, but isn’t there an easier route to Dayton?
I studied my ticket. Upon landing in Charlotte, I would have 20 minutes to make the connecting flight to Dayton. “You’ll have plenty of time,” the flight attendant assured me.
Needless to say, after three flights and 12 hours in airports, I made it to Dayton. When I checked in at the Humor Writers Conference, I was not amused. Nonetheless, I’ve got it all arranged for next year: I’m going Greyhound.
— Sharon L. Cook
Sharon L. Cook is author of the mystery novel, A Nose for Hanky Panky.