This is the second in a two part series. For part one, click here.
When we last left off, it was fiveish in the morning, and my son Jacob and I were at the front of a seven mile long line of folks waiting to get through security at the Atlanta Airport. We had just been told that we only had two out of the four boarding passes we needed, and both of the ones we had read “Lori,” a name my tall post-pubescent son couldn’t believably claim, even with fake ID, not that he has any. It took me about 8 milliseconds to realize that in my undercaffeinated state I had left the remaining two boarding passes in the little kiosk automated machine located, in terms of how long it would take us to walk there, somewhere in Eastern Europe, from where we stood.
We started walking, and fast. Between puffs of breath, I said to my son, “See? This is why we get places early. Because we are Duffs and we have to allow for something to go completely wrong.”
I went back to the kiosk, and of course in the intervening 45 minutes or so our boarding passes were no longer in the kiosk. I looked around for someone in a uniform, and finally found an official looking woman, complete with neckerchief and clipboard.
“Apparently,” I said, “The machine thingie printed out four boarding passes and we only grabbed two.”
She eyed me up and down as if she were inspecting horseflesh. Squinting her eyes like she was trying to remember something, she said, “What’s your last name?”
“Duff,” I said.
“Ah hah.” She walked over to a shelf near the ticket agents and handed me the boarding passes. I grabbed them out of her hand and pushed Jacob forward back on the hike towards security. I walked backwards some, then twisted my head in an effort to look like I was grateful for her lecture on patience responsibility.
We made it through security much more quickly this time, and got the same security agent, who I greeted by saying, “We’re back! And this time he’s Jacob!”
Surprisingly, we were not strip searched.
We could smell the coffee from the nearby Starbucks. I love coffee under the best and worst of circumstances. At this point, about 5:30 in the morning, when I’d already been up long enough to watch an entire Harry Potter movie, including credits and outtakes, when I’d jogged several miles in sandals with a blue sparkly carry-on bouncing against my hip, it was a siren’s song of temptation. But I forewent. We were not yet at the gate, and there was still plenty of occasion for things to go wrong.
We put our shoes back on, my son learning why wearing high top Converse sneakers to an airport was not the wisest choice in footwear for this purpose, and got on the escalator to the tram. The tram stopped, and we got on. The cheerful recorded voice said, “Stop! Do not enter! The doors are about to close!” and I wondered who got paid to record that message, and how many people she beat out in the auditions. Then I wondered who does the voice on my GPS, and whether or not her husband has that kind of GPS, and passive-aggressively (or maybe all the way aggressively) refused to turn left when she said to turn left, just because it was her voice giving instruction.
I needed coffee and fast.
We got off the tram, and on the escalator so long it seemed to disappear in the clouds. As it turned out, we were in fact delivered to heaven at the top, in the form of an Einstein’s Bagels shop. There was a sign, a glorious sign, advertising a lox special (it was called salmon, but I knew better) and I knew what I was getting. There are very few meals I love more than a hot cup of coffee, a garlic bagel, cream cheese, a slice of onion, a juicy slice of tomato, and piles of soft orange lox. Nom nom nom. We ordered, and got our bagels to go.
By the time we got to the gate, they were already boarding the plane, so we waited until we were in our seats with our seat belts buckled (an aside: why do they demonstrate how to do a seat belt buckle? Do we really want to protect the people who can’t figure this out? Or do we have some societal obligation to save them from themselves?) and after we had greeted the poor schmo who was assigned to sit with us before digging into our breakfasts.
My stomach was audible as I unwrapped my well-deserved reward for a stressful and long morning. I unwrapped the gorgeous bagel and, in the recycled cabin air, the sharp smells of garlic and onion and fish bloomed like a mushroom cloud over my seat. I quickly wrapped it up and stuffed it in the bag. I was still hungry, though, so I stuck my face in the bag and slurped up bites surreptitiously like I was sipping gin on an elementary school playground.
But I ate my bagel. It was good. And we made it to Kentucky. That was good, too.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Told You…” is set to be released in the Fall of 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here.