Monday, January 3, 2011

Welcome to the United States

We just went to India for 3 weeks. It was an amazing trip and there's lots to write about around it.

What's fresh in my mind tho is the re-entry to the United States.

We came in refreshed this time, thanks to a serendipitous upgrade to business class by our friends on Jet Airways. My daughter was asleep, so I carried her while my wife carted all our carryons. It was pre-emiment in a way, carrying a large weight as I moved towards customs and immigration.

They've done a lot to try and make entrance to the United States more friendly. There's still the distinction between US citizens and non, but the non are now called 'visitors' rather than foreigners or immigrants as the signs used to say in days past. There are large LED screens that show images of people smiling and saying hello. It's refreshing in a way. People forgot to move on in line because they were caught by the images flashing above them. This is also a commentary about how intoxicated we are by digital screens but that's a digression.

The immigration officials are also much friendlier. We went to one who had a yamakah on, and was joking with us while he stamped the passports.

So far so good.

Then you get into the baggage area, and the welcome starts.

I have travelled now to at least 15 airports, and the US is the only one I know of where interational airports charge you money to use a cart. A smart carte costs $5/use. For those of us who live in the US, its just a hit on the wallet. For foreigners, it makes it unusable. Yes they allow you to use credit cards - so what?

We got our luggage, paid our $5 fee and piled all our bags sky high on one cart. Lucky for us, one bag didn't arrive, because it was short checked and was (still is actually) sitting in Brussels airport.

Coming out of international and transferring to our domestic flight we got a full taste of New York hospitality. I dropped off the cart in front of the security line and heard a testy TSA rep barking at me.

'Excuse me Sir, SIR. No. That is not going to happen. I need you to move that cart out of the way so that others can move ahead in line.'

I was jetlagged, surprised and startled. My daughter was standing in front of the cart so I told her to move it out of the way.

'No. Not her. She can't do it.'

I looked at the woman as Rai pressed down on the handle bar and moved the cart out of the way.

'Yes she can' I said.

'Ok, she's strong' was the muttered response.

I do not usually say things in such situations, but today I was irritated.

'Maam, I'm sure you know a lot about airport security and rules' I said 'but please keep any opinions you have about my daughter to yourself.'

She was looking away. I was still angry. I think my daughter was nervous.

So as I handed the other lady our passports and boarding passes I said my final piece.

'I don't know what your story is, but I do not set my daughter up t fail'

So here I was, back on my way home, and I was completely thrown off by this one TSA woman who couldn't keep to herself.

In the past, I have told myself its because they work minimum wage jobs and get shouted at all day. They probably have tough lives at home and are just fighting to survive. All of that still remains true.

But I was still angry.

I thought about it all the way home, interjecting other retorts I might have made. I constructed an alternative conversation in my head about how it should have gone.

Finally I realized it was not worth the amount of time I was giving it.

So I figured I'd write it down. Hopefully that will bury it.

1 comment:

  1. Brenny!
    I can't believe I've missed you blog until now. Sorry I'm late responding.
    I love the way you choose NOT to allow people to invalidate your daughter. You are giving Rai every chance to achieve her full potential.
    Getting angry is understandable, especially considering how tired you must have been.Your natural tendency is to analyse the situation, but you have every right to express your frustration in that circumstance.
    There is a great article on invalidation at a website I've been check out recently.

    Blessings to you. Keep drumming buddy!