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Jun 14, 2007

Continuation of http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/399120

Ok, so now I had my ashtray (guess one needs to be a smoker to understand). After relaxing for awhile, I decided I was off to the Hard Rock for dinner and souvenir shopping. After a glorious and sunny day, the rain decided to come down just as I was leaving the hotel. Never being one to let a little rain bother me, I grabbed my umbrella from my purse and off I went. (I carry my life in my purse!) Up a hill. I hate walking up hills!

I have very little cartilage in my knees, and they were already burning from my trek through the airport from the day before. But, I was not to be deterred from my destination.

The Hard Rock carries Pepsi products. Seeing as how I don't like Pepsi, I ordered a Dr. Pepper. The server brought my soda, I took a sip and practically gagged! I don't know what it was, but it certainly wasn't Dr. Pepper. She insisted it was, but offered to get me something else. I opted for root beer. I enjoyed my dinner, watching videos of AC/DC, U2, the Police, Hoobestank, and soaking up the atmosphere. I got my obligatory Hard Rock T-Shirt to add to my collection and traipsed back to my room. Downhill this time. (I'm glad it wasn't the other way around) LOL

Those who know me are aware that I collect Coca-Cola memorabilia. May 24 of this year marked the opening of World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, very near the Underground. I was planning on taking a taxi there and peruse the goodies. I called them and found out they closed at 6:00. I was disappointed, but figured I'd just stay in and watch TV, something I rarely do. The hotel didn't carry my favorite channel (MSNBC), and regardless of how often I flipped through the stations, I could find nothing of interest. I did find out, on my TV surfing, there was a severe thunderstorm warning for the Atlanta area.

My room, while not a suite (by my definition), was a corner room and had large windows on two sides. I watched as the storm rolled in and saw some amazing lightning as a backdrop to the lit skyline of Atlanta. After awhile I snuggled in bed and dozed off and on while the history channel ran stories of the destruction of the earth.

Morning came and it was time to get ready for my trip home. Given the few items I purchased and the materials from the conference, I had more to take home than I had brought. One medium size suitcase, a backpack, and my purse. I had to get creative and figure out a way to get everything packed. After several times of packing, unpacking, and packing again; I finally managed to get all the liquid things that wouldn't fit in a small baggie into my suitcase. I checked out and went to wait for the Link.

The trip to the airport was quick, and the line to check in was long. The woman standing at the entrance to the line told me I needed to get my boarding pass at the kiosk. I began entering the information when the screen told me I needed to enter my confirmation number. I pulled out the paperwork I had gotten from work.....no confirmation number could be found. I went through that paperwork several times, while precariously steadying my suitcase, protecting my open purse, and balancing my now open backpack looking for that number. After several frustrating minutes, and trying not to let any semblance of panic set in, I thought that possibly the confirmation number could be found on my ticket to Atlanta. I dug through my purse and voila! There was my confirmation number. I entered it, and the message on the screen informed me there was no information to be found to match that number. Surely I entered the number incorrectly. So, I entered it again, double checking each letter and number. Same thing, no information to be found to match that number.

I returned to the woman at the entrance to the line, which thankfully had shrunk, and she let me enter and told me to just let the agent know.

When it was my turn to check my bag the agent asked for my boarding pass. I explained what happened, he rolled his eyes and was visibly irritated. (whatever, I thought to myself) He did his thing, and stamped my boarding pass with the dreaded words "See check-in agent." I groaned inside, figuring I was not going to enjoy the experience. I then headed inside the airport.

I thought about having a quick smoke prior to entering, but remembering there were smoking lounges inside, I decided my best bet was to get checked in at the gate first. When I entered the airport I could not believe my eyes. The line for security was twisting and turning throughout the entire baggage area!! There were news crews there reporting on the mess. I'm sure I ended up being a blip on the evening news in Atlanta.

The line wasn't moving, and I began worrying that I wouldn't make my flight. The woman in front of me voiced her worry about missing her flight, which was 20 minutes after mine. She and I began talking. She lived just outside Atlanta, was a frequent flyer, and told me she had never seen the line even close to this long.

The airport employees were herding us like cattle, this way and that, through one aisle then another. What a wonderful way to promote camaraderie amongst travelers!

Finally, I could see daylight! There were the little buckets to place items in for screening. I placed my things in the buckets, walked through the scanner and went to gather my things. A TSA agent held up my purse and asked me, "Ma'am, is this your bag?" My heart sank! What could I have forgotten??? He pulled out my zippo lighter. (which, I might add, has been in my purse for a few years and has gone through several airport screenings-it didn't even cross my mind!) I have a small collection of zippo lighters, and that particular lighter is the only one I have ever used. I haven't used it in a few years, and just keep it with me for sentimental reasons. So, we get a supervisor over, because I am not willing to relinquish my zippo.

I know a TSA agent, and I know I was told by him that one zippo lighter could make it through. However, as you can imagine, that didn't fly with them. The supervisor informed me I had 3 options. One, I could give it to someone to hold for me. (I told him there wasn't anyone there since I was there on business and was on my way home) Two, I could send it to myself. (I told him I had no way to get to a post office, and if I could I would not be able to get back in time to make my flight) Three, I could contribute it to the TSA lighters. (I won't say what my response was to that!) I must admit, I did give him a bit of a difficult time, but not too much because I didn't want to get hauled away!! Finally, he told me there was a post office in the airport. So, he walked me back through different points in security, and instructing the agents at the points to let me through to the beginning of the line when I returned.

I got to the post office, got an envelope, and posted my lighter to me. I go back through security and hustle to get to my flight. When I finally get to my concourse, I discover that my gate is at the end of the concourse. My knees are burning (that darn cartilage), I need to use the restroom, I need to get something to drink, and I really wanted a smoke! The line at my gate was long, so I ran quickly to the restroom. I stopped at a vending machine and got a bottle of coke. I go up to the desk with my boarding pass and ID. Hardly anyone is left outside the entrance, and the ticket agent doesn't even acknowledge my presence. She is calling out names and assigning seats. When she finally calls my name off I go to get on the plane. Four minutes before departure time.

I sit down, grab a xanax, buckle up, and take a deep breath. The woman sitting next to me starts talking about crashing into the ocean and getting eaten by sharks. Once we're in the air, I just close my eyes and doze off.

I think I'll just avoid Atlanta in the future.


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Posted: Thursday June 14, 2007, 6:57 pm
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Debbye s.
female, age 63, single, 2 children
Tamarac, FL, USA
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