My brother pulled us into the un-loading zone while my mom and he and the two carry-on bags waited in the truck. I rolled the 4 suitcases to the curbside check-in. Presented my mom's i.d. and my own, wondering if they would insist on seeing her in person or if pointing to the truck was good enough. Mr. Skycap was cheery and helpful. We m'am-ed and sir-ed each other all over the place and it was fine. He checked the bags and sent the wheelchair guy to get my mom--but not before he assumed the wheelchair was for me. Wanna arm wrestle? I asked. How about a foot race. Gray-haired women confuse people. So off he went to retrieve my mom. She shouted Weeeeeee up and down the curbs and made people smile. I tossed off 5 and 10-dollar tips like I was still married to a millionaire. Off we went.
Security was fun. Her bag had to be hand searched. Not the coin collections, they said. Something. They wouldn't say what. The vintage cigarette holder/lighter interested them. Damn. I had visions of running back into the pre-security part of the terminal and buying a tote bag to check it. What is it, the TSA officer asked. A cigarette case from the 40s, I said. She opened it with a click. I envisioned lighter fluid. Surely it would have evaporated over the last half century, I reassured myself inside my head. Then came the swab. What are they doing, my mom asked. Ah.......checking for um.....could I actually say the word explosives? Explosives! said the TSA trainee. You can't say that! said the veteran TSA officer who looked to be all of 20. Say other substances, she said. Other substances, I said to my mom.
So, here we are. Southwest Airlines. Row 3. Wheelchairs board first. I'm in it for the pre-boarding, right?
And how will I get those 6 suitcases to the curb? I'll let you know.