Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My authority. Respect it.

I have been traveling a lot for work recently. It’s provided me with a bit of time for writing, but mostly just leaves me exhausted. However, I wanted to get this down immediately before I forgot or assumed I dreamt it. This happened this morning.

I noted last week, as I was en route to Seattle, that getting up at 4 AM for a Seattle flight is like a squirrel jumping onto your face – confusing and uncomfortable.

Getting up at 3:45 AM for a flight to Vegas was more along the lines of a complete stranger walking up to me and throwing a pickled herring at my feet – just as confusing, not as uncomfortable, leaving me asking myself “Did I do something to deserve this?”

One positive thing is that I am becoming extremely proficient in navigating airport security. I have learned that if I start stashing things like keys, watch, etc. into my carry-on backpack before hitting security I can save precious seconds in the “bin assembly line” at the checkpoint.

Even at 5:30 AM, the line to pass through security at SFO in Terminal 3 is large (about one hundred people.) I wait as the line progresses and double-check that I am set : I.D. and boarding pass in left pants pocket. All other pockets empty. Watch, phone, keys, belt in backpack – I am ready to roll.

In order to keep things moving quickly, sometimes they will station what I call a “shouter” near the front of the line. This person’s duty is to scream to the cattle to have their boarding passes and I.D. ready (this is so you aren’t fumbling around looking for ID when the man at the podium simply wants to put a pink highlighter mark on your boarding pass.) Standing about 10 feet in front of the podium is a woman about 5 feet tall assigned the morning's shouting duties.

I approach her and she looks at me and asks “Do you have your ID and boarding pass?”, I respond in the affirmative and make to move past her. She holds her hand out in front of me in the “Stop!” motion, so I assume she is letting traffic get a bit more caught up before letting me through. I stand there looking straight ahead, waiting for the hand to change to “Go!”.

Nothing happens. I turn to find her staring right at me. She looks at me as if I were daft and screams, “Can I SEE them?!” I reach into my front left pocket and show her. She seems a bit shocked that I could produce them so quickly.

I say, “I’m sorry, I thought I was supposed to show that guy.” and point to the man wielding the pink highlighter at the head of the line. She makes a sound of exasperation, turns her head so she is staring straight ahead, balls her hand into a fist and pounds her chest three times.

“I am an officer too!”, she yells and moves on to the next person who has his papers in his hand already.

This makes me wonder if I have ever met a female with a Napoleon Complex before (I have met many males with one, and pray that I never let my 5’6” stature morph me into that.) In any case, I continue to be torn between respecting people trying to do their job and being faced with someone who appears to not wear the cloak of authority appropriately.

I’ll continue to keep my head down, follow instructions and hope that I don’t get put on a list somewhere that will make me late for already stressful travel.


Sabrina said...

It's the beating of the chest that makes it noticeable.... otherwise, I'd just say she was grumpy. Gotta love power grubbers.

Brian, Beth, Emma, Sophie, and Myles said...

Awesome post. I fully understand this one with my brief tenure coming and going from Atlanta. Good thing you didn't break into "I am Woman, hear me roar".