Sunday, December 20, 2015

Heading Home for the Holidays

I write from gate B2 at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport after having once again suffered indignities at the hands of TSA. It's been a long week of travel, in which I left last Sunday through Wednesday for biz in San Diego, returned on Wednesday's redeye (I love children, especially babies, but they should be banned from redeyes), checked in with the family on Thursday, and departed for Florida on Friday. Here I sit awaiting transportation back to Baldymore, then an hours drive to Easton.

San Diego was pretty straightforward, so much so that it did not rise to the level of blogworthiness. I did however, get to spend time with two of my shipmates from USS PRINCETON (CG 59) at dinner, one of whom just took command of his own destroyer, and the other of whom has already commanded both a destroyer and a destroyer squadron. Seeing your friends thrive is one of the great benefits of retired status.

My check-in at home had one main objective, and that was the procurement of the Christmas Tree. The Kittens enjoy going to the tree farm, selecting one from the field and cutting it down. I have always considered this more trouble than it is worth, but am consistently outvoted. Before I left for San Diego last Sunday, I checked the oncoming weather for Easton and saw that Thursday would be a very rainy day. I suggested (via text message) that the Kittens watch the weather, and if it looked ugly, they should consider just going to Lowes and grabbing one. As the week progressed, the weather report did not change. Not one bit. The Kitten--when queried by phone on Wednesday--questioned my heartiness in the face of "a little rain", and so sufficiently chastened, I resigned myself to the drudgery of soggy tree cutting.

Thursday dawned as I awoke on the redeye, raining solidly, and it continued the entire drive back to Easton. Arriving at home, I found the Kitten full of piss and vinegar at the prospect of braving the elements, but without any of The Kittens on deck, their joy at the prospect had yet to be surveyed. Upon their waking, it turned out that the younger of the two, whose boarding school status was the reason we put off getting the tree in the first place (it was averred that she had insisted on waiting) was as unenthusiastic about the rain as I, but we piled into the car anyway to bring down a mighty douglas fir. Until we got on the road, and the heavens burst which point my quietly suggested, "maybe we should swing by Lowes and have a look" was quickly accepted by all.

Now, there are those among you who know that there is one thing that tends to cause me more agitation than anything else in the world. And no, it isn't TSA. It is having the foresight to see a problem coming, warning those responsible for its avoidance, and then having them do nothing to mitigate it. Subordinates in the Navy suffered cruel and unusual punishment when this unfortunate chain of events occurred. In this case, while I was self-satisfied, because the change worked to my advantage, I did not get agitated.

Tim and Alexandra, with various well-wishers
The reason for my trip to South Florida was the nuptials of Tim and Alexandra. Tim is a colleague of mine, and I gave his his first job out of college five years ago. At the time, he had a girlfriend of some four years standing (Alexandra), and they made for a lovely couple. They tied the knot this weekend in a perfectly pulled off wedding merging two American families with immigrant roots. Tim's father is American, while his mother is from Venezuela, and Alexandra's parents are both from Venezuela. I am aware of no crimes committed by any of these immigrants. Quite the contrary, they have educated their young in good schools and sent them off to first rate universities. The Mass was conducted in both English and Spanish, and the reception had a decidedly Latin flair.

Some random thoughts:

You know those little reflectors that are sometimes embedded in the highway lines so that one might see them more easily at night? I first saw them at the age of 8 when I drove in my Grandfather's car from the airport to their home in Hollywood. I was mesmerized by them, and I remember saying so to my grandparents. Cut to 42 years later, this very morning as a matter of fact, when I was driving to the airport--and I again saw the reflectors--and had a vivid recall of that very conversation as if it were happening in the car.

The last time I was in this part of the country was the Spring of 2001, when Grandma Crissie died. She had a long life, and her funeral--while sad as funerals generally are--was somewhat lightened by the realization that she was finally to join Andy--her great love--after twenty-three years without him.

Bond, James Bond
TSA remains the bane of my existence. Whether it is a lack of staffing at mealtimes at the San Diego airport--which renders my paid for TSA Pre status moot, or the lack of full body scanners at TSA Pre lines--as was the case this morning--their incompetence runs amok. Here's the issue from this morning. There were two lines--one for TSA Pre--and one for everyone else. Everyone else was ushered to the part of security where there was both a full body scanner and an xray machine. The TSA Pre line had only an xray machine. As my hips are both titanium, I always set off xrays, which then results in the Full Monty from TSA, Pre or otherwise. This leads me to request when I get to security, that I be escorted to the full body scan. This happened this morning, so far so good. On the way there, the surly supervisor began to gesticulate and yell.  "Where are your bags"..I assured him they were on their way through the TSA screen machine. "You need to take your bags with you" he said. I answered that was fine, but would I then get to proceed as a TSA customer--no shoes, computer and liquids in bag, etc.  "No". I said, "sir, I am a Pre-Customer, and you are not making an allowance for me". At which point he became even more direct and surly. And so I said, "ok, let's go through the Pre line Xray.  And I of course set it off, which then resulted in the full body patdown that I was trying to avoid in the first place.  Ridiculous.

I have gained a few pounds, as my new suit(s) (I purchased another of the made to order jobs) are a bit snug. Need to get my act together again. Not a crisis, mind you. Just five pounds or so.

Ok, that's all from here. I am in a sea of humanity at the gate, and soon the Southwest queuing dance will begin.

1 comment:

"The Hammer" said...

Venezuelans are really lovely people in spite of their politics. And the women are some of the world's most beautiful. Looks like the groom is a lucky man.

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