I just read about the shuttle driver who was arrested as a terrorist, honestly aren’t they all? Terrorist? The shuttle drivers I mean. They throw you in the back of a van squeeze you between 40 other people then drive like a Tijuana taxi to the airport where they come to a screeching halt in front of the gate located 40 miles from the gate of which you are flying. The terrorist then throws your bags on the curb and all that is left is the puff of diesel infused smoke and soot. Isn’t that terrorism in and of itself? Oh and let’s not forget they want, nay, expect a tip for this.
Reading this I began remembering and when I begin to remember then you are all in for another one of my stories. Yes I even have a terrorist story. It happened a couple of years after 9-11, it was in fact the week after the Challenger had exploded upon re-entry. There was still fear and speculation that it might have been an Al Qaeda plot. I was on my way to a convention in Chicago. I boarded the plane and had a fairly uneventful flight. Well once I got on the plane that is. I had to first stand in line at security for 3 hours. Then once I took my place in front of the metal detector/colonoscopy machine I was told I was marked for additional screening. The TSA officer took me aside and waved his wand up and down my barefooted body which commenced to singing like a nightingale. Now being a woman who thinks ahead and preparing for the much colder climate I had dressed in layers. First Mr. TSA said “Ma’am could you remove your jacket?” I did as I was asked and his wand once again passed over my body. It was louder now more like a meadow lark. He looked me up and down and said “Ma’am would you please remove your sweater?” I of course complied and removed my sweater. I told you I was preparing for MUCH colder weather and I had been told Chicago in February was cold. He once again passed the wand over my torso and it once again screeched like a crow. He looked at me then he looked around the concourse and said “Ma’am I’m going to have to ask you to step behind this panel.” I also looked up and down the concourse now standing in less clothing than I began. I agreed and stepped behind the screen. He then informed me he would have to frisk me. “WHAT?” I cried. “Why? Can’t you just wave your wand around and see what’s causing it to go off like that?” Mr. TSA was non-plussed. He was an older gentleman and said in a fatherly way “Ma’am its just procedure.” I stood there in the small cubical and tried applying the stink-eye. Mr. TSA wasn’t budging. Then I had a stroke of genius and decided to try and bargain “How about I take off my turtleneck. I have on a camisole and you can see that I am not concealing anything.” Mr. TSA tried not to look lecherous and said “well if you think that will help” as he waited for me to squeeze my head from my sweater. There I stood in my camisole arms outstretched as he once again passed the apparatus over my torso. It was no longer singing or screeching now it was reverberating with a high tenor squeal that set dogs to barking 15 miles away. It was now Mr. TSA’s turn to give me the stink-eye. I felt like the Elephant Man only I would be shouting “I AM NOT A TERRORIST, I AM A HUMAN BEAN”. +
I was now beside myself with fear and frustration. What if I really was a terrorist and didn’t know it. I mean what if I was like that guy who killed his wife in his sleep or something. I stood frozen in time then I remembered what I should have remembered in the first place. I had underwires. Yes I was wearing a bra with metal stays. I rolled my eyes and did the one magic trick every woman can do, I undid my bra slid my arms out of it and placed it on the table. Mr. TSA stood there mouth agape. “Now try it” I commanded. He whisked the metal detector over my torso once again and it was quiet as a church mouse. Oh and why are church mice quieter than say a library mouse? Are they afraid to speak or lightening and pestilence will rain down on them? I digress.
I finally boarded the plane and headed northwardly to the big city of Chi-town. Well you all know that Chicago is my kind of town, Chicago is… oh wait maybe its Frank Sinatra’s kind of town. So I land at O’Hare airport which is in and of itself the size of a small African nation. I make my way to the taxi stand and hail a cab. I felt so urban. I felt so citified. I felt so let down when it wasn’t one of those cool round yellow monstrosities that you see in old movies when someone hails a cab. No instead it was either a Buick La Saber or a Chevy Impala. It stunk like old sweat and the meter was running the second I entered along with my 47 pounds of clothes and two suitcases. The driver asked my destination and I informed him of not only the name of the hotel but also the most direct route. I was not going to be taken on a wild ride just to run up the fare. What I didn’t know was my direct route was also the most congested route. Mr. Taxi happy to comply put the car in gear and we sped at breakneck speed into stopped traffic. He maneuvered through the crowd with a skill that I can only describe as “threading the needle” We finally crept through the tall buildings and were within blocks from my destination when Mr. Taxi turned left in front of a car that was going straight. I saw the car but had no where to go. I sucked all of the sweaty stale air right out of the cab. I know I did because it actually caved one side completely in and rendered the vehicle undriveable. I looked up to make sure Mr. Taxi was alright only it seemed the cab had been driving itself. I scooted to the opposite side of the vehicle as gawker’s and good Samaritans came to my aide. I searched the crowd for Mr. Taxi but he was not to be found. Then the police arrived and they surveyed the situation. They looked over the other car and driver and one large officer dressed in a puffy coat came to stand beside me. “Were you driving this car?” he asked while taking out a pad and pen. “No sir. I was in the backseat. I am on my way to the Plaza Hotel and I saw the car coming at us then the next thing I knew there was a screech and a big bang and no driver.” The policeman smacked his gum looked around at the crowd then back at me “did you see which way he ran?” I looked up at him trying not to shiver from cold and fear and replied “I think he just disappeared into thin air.” The policeman rolled his eyes looked at his partner as if to say help. “Hey Marty, we got another invisible cab driver. She says the driver disappeared into thin air.” I don’t know if they ever found the driver but I gave the officer my information and where I was staying. He then looked at my shivering southern self and said “do you know where your hotel is?” I told him that I did not, that I had never been to Chicago before and was not thinking it was someplace I wanted to return if they had something that sucked cab drivers right up out of their seats who was next? He smirked and said “Hey Marty, you wanna we take this lady to her hotel?” So I arrived to the Plaza in a blue and white with Marty and Stan as my escorts. Who said I don’t know how to make an entrance.
I was at the convention a couple of days when I got a call from my daughter who was in college. She left a message on my cell phone in hysterics. The message made no sense but I was able to make out that there had been an accident; duh I know I was there. She then went on blubbering about going to the hospital and needing to talk to me. I wondered for just an instance why she would be in Chicago looking for me in a hospital. Then I realized she didn’t mean me. She meant she had been in an accident. I hit speed dial and she answered after the 15th ring. “WHAT ACCIDENT?” I cried. She blubbered and sniffed and said “Mom I got broadsided on my way to school.” Now here is the really spooky part. She got hit at exactly the same time that the cab I was riding in was hit. She had been trying to get hold of me for two days but because I was on Cheapo-Cellular and she couldn’t remember the name of my hotel she couldn’t tell me about it. I did my mommy rundown of “are you hurt? Is your car totaled? Were you wearing clean underwear?” She said yes to all, well she was wearing clean underwear BEFORE the accident. I told her I would catch the next available flight out and would come take care of her.
I called the airlines and moved my departure to that afternoon. I went to the front desk of the Plaza and told them my situation and they were nice as they could be. They refunded the remainder of my stay. I asked the desk clerk to call me a taxi. She looked at me and said “Okay lady if that’s what you want. You’re a taxi. Now would you like us to have our town car take you to the airport? No charge to you.” I was elated not to have to ride with a disappearing cabbie and agreed hastily. I stuffed my suitcases full of my belongings, bid farewell to my co-workers and met the town car at the cabbie stand.
There waiting was a large Middle Eastern man stuffed into a chauffer’s suit and cap. He looked like a sausage with a cap. He heaved my bags into the trunk and slammed it shut. I climbed in the backseat anxious to get home and attend to my child. I didn’t care that she was legally an adult she was still my baby and she was ailing. I fidgeted a bit as we sped towards the expressway. Mr. Bin Laden, as his license named him, began asking me what I thought of Mr. Bush, our president at the time. I mumbled something about him being just that “our” president. Then he began telling me that 9-11 was actually caused by Mr. Bush. That he instructed the U.S. Military to fly those planes into the World Trade Center. He went on to say he was happy, yes HAPPY that it happened and would now expose Americans for the infidels they are. Um, excuse me Mr. Bin Laden, but you happen to have one of those infidels in your speeding vessel full of flammable and explodable gasoline. I began to fidget more. I shifted from one side of the seat to the other looking for a possible escape route. Would it hurt to jump out of a vehicle moving at 75 or 80 miles per hour? Then I looked at the other traffic and wondered if Mr. Joe Schmoe average driver could brake fast enough not to run over my rolling body once I did jump. I was imagining Mr. Bin Laden with TNT strapped to the undercarriage of the vehicle and driving it right into the airport and hitting the button. All that would be left would be some chin whiskers, mine of course, and his chauffeurs cap.
I saw the airport sign and started to gather belongings. All I wanted to do was exit his vehicle and get out of Chicago. I wanted to hold my child and make sure she was okay. I grabbed my ticket and blurted out “hey don’t forget my gate is C-17 and that’s the next exit.” He squinted into the rearview mirror and said “yes, yes I see. So you see how it is all the fault of Mr. Bush?” Now I took lots of psychology classes and lived with a psychopath so I did what I knew to do and said “well of course. It was all Mr. Bush’s fault. He is a trader! Go ISLAM! Sadaam Rocks!” The car barely came to a stop and I literally sprang from the seat before Mr. Bin Laden could open my door. He started to hand my bags to the Sky Cap and I grabbed another Sky Cap. “That man is a terrorist” I hissed into Mr. Sky Cap’s ear. He looked at me and then he looked at Mr. Bin Laden and back to me “Yes ma’am ALL of the shuttle driver’s are terrorist.” I grabbed Mr. Sky Cap by his lapels and through clenched teeth said “NO! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. HE IS A REAL LIFE TERRORIST! GO GET TSA!” He ushered me through the big double doors and I turned as I entered the security line to be strip searched only see Mr. Bin Laden speed off from the curb.