My one brother, Ralph, who is much older than I am, apparently had visions of his own mortality, and so he called for a family reunion at our house, after the first good frost. He fled Ohio many years ago because he has hay fever. My other brother, Dave who is just a little younger than I am, agreed.
I was absolutely thrilled. We had not all been together in the same place at the same time since 1990. Frequent phone calls are nice, and e-mails are OK, but nothing matches a visit. Miracle upon miracle, they were to arrive at the airport within an hour of each other.
It had been well over a year since we had to go to the airport to pick up company. The ones who had come had business beyond our house, so they rented a car and met us at home.
We arrived at the airport an hour early, thinking we would look through the shops and watch the planes land. Yes, we knew things had changed since 9/11, but we didn’t know how much.
There were some changes in parking, but we were still able to park fairly close. We entered by the last door and things looked pretty much the same. As we strolled along, we noted one coffee shop along the main aisle.
Then the changes became very evident. No one but passengers with tickets were allowed beyond the first security check point. All the shops, restaurants and planes were way beyond this. We realize security is important, so we settled down to watch suitcases move around on the baggage carousel.
This activity lost its fascination in short order. There weren’t many passengers or suitcases to watch. I found a newspaper to read with word puzzles to work so I was happy. Then I realized it was time for Dave’s plane to land. When we checked earlier it was listed on time. We looked again. It was still “on time”.
An announcement came over the speaker phone, “Kathleen Floyd please go to a courtesy phone.” We found the phone, and I reported in. It was airport security informing me I had a call. Within a second in my mind, my brother’s plane was down in flames somewhere.
Then I heard his voice, “Hello there!”
“Where are you?” I asked.
“In my office in Dallas.” he responded. There were enough delays with his reservation he requested another flight and would be in at 6 p.m. This meant five more bottom numbing hours waiting there. As I tried to think he told me he would just rent a car. I was grateful.
I went to the information desk and asked the lady to thank airport security for putting Dave’s call through to me. She gave me the phone and asked me to tell them. The lady who answered seemed amazed someone was actually calling to thank them. I could understand that, because a few minutes before I was in no mood to thank them.
Bill and I drove down the road for a change of scene and returned to the airport in time to meet Ralph and his wife Fran. We saw them with their luggage way down by where the airport restaurant is. They looked tired and confused, but we couldn’t go down to help them. Security, you know.
We finally brought them home, and Dave arrived in time for the Halloween party that night.
We had a wonderful five days and plan to meet next year, or sooner.
When we returned Ralph and Fran to the airport, we got in the wrong line and ended up just dumping them out at the curb. We did manage to unload their luggage and say goodbye.
I realize security is important, but I wonder why the first security checkpoint couldn’t be moved just beyond the first shop and the restaurant. More people might be willing to fly again, even if they are on commuter planes from D.C. or Dallas to Dayton.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on November 20, 2002.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.