Friday, January 30, 2004

Cuttlery in a World of Hurried Travel

What a day! As I mentioned before, I can't really say what actually happens in the assessment process for my new unit, but I made it! For a minute or two I was sure I would be taking a position at Camp Dungheap in central Saskatuan, but I made it and we report this summer. Here's where the day gets fun. I finished with everything early in the afternoon and so have time to kill until my plane leaves tomorrow morning. I talked to another guy who was in the same situation and he said he was able to get on an earlier flight. After all, why wait? I had to check it out.

The airport is about 1 hour or so from here and it takes a few minutes to check in and get through security so I gotta allow for some extra time plus I still had to check out of my room which shouldn't take all that long. So after calling the airlines I determined that if I left within 38 seconds of hanging up the phone and zipped through the hotel lobby and then drove non stop at about 183 miles per hour, I could make it to an earlier flight and see my family for dinner (I haven't seen them for 5 1/2 months). I quickly packed, which didn't take very long, except that I think my t-shirts had kids because all of a sudden I didn't have enough room for my stuff. After much pounding and prying on my luggage, I headed down to the lobby to stand behind a guy with an unsolvable problem. He had the clerk tied up over something like getting a different room because his wasn't clean. AS IF! So, I finally cleared the hotel and jumped into my rented car and headed for the airport. It was a pleasant enough drive. But as I approached the airport I remembered the rental agreement stating, "If you return this car missing any gas, you will have to pay approximately the annual GNP of Andorra to have us fill it for you. Thank you for using Franks Rent a Car!" So I had to stop and waste precious time filling the car with gas. Come on man! Finally, I got to the airport and headed for the rental turn in. And after being directed by the guy in the blue vest to go there, the guy in the purple vest said I had to go there instead. Bill's rentals on the left, Franks on the right. At last I'm on my way to the ticket counter where my ticket is waiting (I reserved it over the phone). But in my haste I went to the wrong counter. The gentleman behind it was very helpful and really wanted to get me squared away which he did. As I left the counter he put a nice red sticker on my newly purchased ticket and I headed for the plane. After easily flying through security of course! Here enters the Curse of the Red Sticker. Because my ticket was a last minute purchase, I was a security risk. That's right, Chaplain Lewis, US Army, loving husband and father, minister of the Gospel, is a security risk. So I got to go to the special line where time stands still. I put my backpack on the conveyor to be x-rayed while I removed some of my clothing and all of my shoes and received a severe "wanding". As I was being "wanded" I noticed a funny look on the x-ray technicians face. Back and forth the conveyor went as if he was trying to figure out what he was seeing. He called a buddy over and they had a look together. Soon there was a small party going on at the 12 inch black and white TV and almost in unison, as though rehearsed, they looked at me, Chaplain Terrorist. I knew with out a word from my audience what they where looking at. I had left my pocket knife in my back pack. I finished taking my "wanding" and proceeded to try to explain the knife. I'm not out to take over the world. I just want to see my family. Fine with them. But what to do with the knife? They kindly informed me that I had several very good options. First, I could put it in my checked luggage, which at that point was buried in 8000 other pieces of checked luggage. Second, I could return to the front desk, get the necessary supplies and mail it home. This, of course, would mean another "wanding" upon reentry. Lastly, I could simply put it in the amnesty bin. Well, hey that's perfect. It's just a very nice knife that I paid good money for that I'll never see again. Can I give you a hundred dollars with that, too? Well, seeing as my flight was soon to depart, I opted for the amnesty (my boy will love this new knife I found at work) box. Thank you Mr. Lewis for your understanding and cooperation. Could you please step right over here while we complete the necessary paperwork for your generous donation. So I stood and explained the "forgotten knife in the backpack in hopes of taking over the world" trick to the extremely quick penned clerk. Once we finished Amnesty Form 1452-45s and the necessary Knife Disclosure Statement I headed for the gate. And believe it or not, I made it home early, and had dinner with my wife and kids.