I would post a picture of my son the Marine in his uniform, but I have promised him never to use his real name, or pictures of him in his military persona, or even reveal destinations where he was going for the armed forces. He is not going on secret missions, but he likes to play like it is so, and is capable of getting very, very mad about it. So you will have to be satisfied with the harrowing tale of delivering him to the airport, putting him on a plane to… somewhere… and finding out first hand what the term SNAFU is all about as it relates to the military and deployment.
You may remember that I posted about collecting him from Love Field and what a wondrous, lovely adventure that was, at the start of his leave for the holiday. (Texas Airport Adventures) Well, unfortunately, we didn’t have the same easy time of it on the butt end of his journey home. We had to go to DFW… The Texas-Sized airport that makes you appreciate how loud and braggart-y and smug and foul-tempered Texas is as a whole. Practically nothing went as planned.
I used this scene to represent the airport and blurred it on purpose (yeah, right!) to protect the identities of the random airport denizens I was photographing because I obtained a release from no one and no faces can be actually visible. (I also thought the pretty little Asian girl dressed in blue was particularly cute, but wanted no part in taking some sort of weird stalker photo.) To use this photo to imagine what the airport is really like, you have to realize that this is one of thirty-five-something waiting areas in only one of the Terminals A, B, C, D, and E that litter this monster airport. You have to take this particular photo times one-hundred-seventy-five-something to get an idea of how labyrinthine and utterly foul and soul-munching this cesspit of Texan humanity and lurking random monsters truly is. And we didn’t even have the misfortune of finding the Minotaur in the middle of the maze.
We started our quest at Terminal C, not quite sure which of the many, many American Airlines spots we were supposed to find out of all the x-marks-the-spots x-es that were to be found on the GPS and Google Maps. We checked his bags and asked about boarding, and if we could get passes to eat dinner at one of the terminal restaurants with our boy before he winged off somewhere into the military world far, far away. Helpful little lady in the official red jacket said we had to go to Terminal B to the USO office and get passes because he was military and that was a USO responsibility. Then she said we should hustle onward to Terminal A to catch his plane. So we went to terminal B. The nice lady at the USO said she had no earthly idea what red-jacket-supposedly-expert lady was talking about. We needed to get our passes from security at the Terminal where we were actually putting him on the plane. So by now, we didn’t trust anything that red-jacket-lady had told us and checked the ticket to see if she had given us the wrong terminal as well. Sure enough, the ticket said we were to put him on a plane at gate D20. There is, of course, no such gate in Terminal A. So we went to Terminal D. There we tried to get passes. The ticket agent that was helping us said we had to go to the special customer services desk at the other end of the free-world side of Terminal D. So, armed with my cane and two aching knees (from arthritis pressed into walking too far already) we stumped and slogged and slithered down to the far end of Terminal D. On the way (during one of my frequent puffing and panting and gasping stops) I checked the departure board for number one son’s flight and saw, to my shock and dismay, that his flight was leaving not out of Terminal D, but out of Terminal A, from gate A11.
The red-jacket-supposedly-expert lady from the far end of Terminal D apologized profusely that we had been misdirected by red-jacket-but-know-nothing lady and recommended that we get our passes from the special customer services desk that was now within fifty feet of where we stood. We went there and lucked out with a quietly competent special-customer-services guy who quietly and competently issued us each of the four passes we sought. (The poor Asian gentleman arguing with the next ticket agent over had already missed his plane because he had been waiting in long airport lines through boarding and take-off. I was so glad not to be in his shoes that I overlooked the fact that smoke was already rolling out of the soles of my shuffling shoes.) From that point on, we got what we wanted. We went to Terminal A and got in through security without being strip-searched… completely (only my feet were actually bare). We found a nice, expensive airport restaurant and consumed enough carbohydrates that it should have killed diabetic little me. The waitress was even a bit smitten with number one son, although the boy did not even notice her big brown calf’s eyes. And then we got him on his plane. And he was gone. Of course, the SNAFU (Situation Normal, All-French-worded-Up) was not completely done with number one son. He reached the place where he was supposed to go from American Airlines to the military transport flight, and was promptly grounded for a couple of days as there was a huge, nasty weather event across the ocean at his destination.
So, there you have it… the abridged to less than one-thousand-one-hundred-words version, anyway. More airport follies to tickle your glee-and-giggles center in your brain. And I may live long enough to go through similar stuff a number of times more. Such is the life of a military parent. But when we got home, just like the last time, the flower wagon had another surprise for us… just before the thunderstorm.