Thursday, December 22, 2005

Random Thoughts So Close to Christmas...

Winter coats are like time capsules. I'm heading to Buffalo for the Christmas holiday today and put on my wool peacoat. Reaching into the pockets, I found a bunch of "dead" (used) tissues, a handful of business cards from my previous job and a well-worn London map from my February visit. This ignited memories of clever pubtenders; a rainy, sunny and snowy day (typical London, I'm told) and a VIP tour of the Tower of London during the Keys Ceremony.

I'm sitting in the Jacksonville International Airport terminal, waiting for my flight. I drove three hours to take advantage of a VIP ticket home. After observing the passengers, I've decided that holiday travel belongs to the amateurs. Those people who don't heed TSA's advisory not to wrap presents and to take off coats, shoes, belts and anything else with bling. There is shock in their tone and facial expression when security needs to open the carefully wrapped gift or ask them to take off their shoes after setting off the alarm.

The holidays is also a time when it's acceptable to travel like "The Grapes of Wrath," luggage loaded to capacity. When one needs to sit on the luggage in order to zip it, hoping that TSA doesn't decide to randomly select that bag for a search because certainly, everything will not be neatly returned to its proper place. And it's acceptable to load yourself down with carry-on luggage - pushing the bar on "one small, personal item and one small carry one." Again - bags bulge and little, gray-haired ladies are dragging bags which could easily double as their sleeping capsule. I have a rule - during the holidays and always when I travel - never to bring more than I can carry or lift by myself. I'm guessing the little, gray-haired ladies will need assistance in lifting their bags into the overhead bin, because certainly, the bags weigh twice their weight.

Today is a milestone in air travel. Scissors of four inches or less are permitted on planes, along with tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers fewer than seven inches. I heard disappointment in a screener's voice after he spotted a pair of scissors in a passenger's bag. "Oh! I think these scissors are only three inches long."

Speaking of peacoats - a flock of young, Navy servicemen just walked by. Innocence still adorns their faces, must be new recruits, home for the holidays.

The one consistency in airports is, no, not TSA screeners. No, I've traveled too much to know that every airport is different in how many times the boarding pass and ID are reviewed, what needs to go in a bin and what doesn't and what needs to be taken off and what needs to stay on. The one consistency is Starbucks. Which is probably why they are so globally successful. No matter where in the world, when you order a venti-whipped-cream-topped-chino-something, you know it's going to be good.

Guess there is another consistency: women passengers don't know how to flush the toilet. It's not that difficult to grab the handle and flush. And how do the sinks and floors get so wet? I haven't been in a men's room so I don't know if the guys have this same issue...

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