I left my heart in Grand Forks
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
These days, when I have the choice of boarding an airplane or having my hand shoved down a running garbage disposal, I usually choose the latter. What's there to like, after all? Lost bags? Late flights? Canceled flights? Surcharges for luggage? Surly flight attendants? (And who can blame them, really?) Control-freak TSA security people? (By the way, have you ever noticed how overweight many of those agents are? I can't help shake the feeling that the people who work for TSA are the types who sit at home in a dark living room, eating from a bag of pork rinds and shouting at the TV because they don't agree with what they're watching.)
Ah, but Grand Forks International Airport? That's another issue altogether. Let me take you now on a time-warp tour of the largest airport in my favorite rectangular state ...
This summer, after touring North Dakota, I was on the first flight out in the morning ... and I got there very early, around 5, because I was new to the airport and didn't know the layout. I mean, would I be going out of Gate Number 1? Or Gate Number 2? And how far apart were they? Would the bathroom be beyond the security checkpoint?
I was happy to find a woman working THE airport restaurant ... and even happier that coffee had been made. At checkout I noticed what I thought was a mirage: A fresh-looking fruit salad that had NOT been sitting there for sixteen days. I reached for it, expecting it to vaporize, and was surprised when I felt the cool plastic in my hand. And then I noticed the pie ... cherry pie. "Oh, what the hell," I thought, "I'm on vacation."
I slunkered off to enjoy my guilty pleasures, and I was so pleased that I felt compelled to talk to the nice young woman behind the counter.
"There was something wrong with this salad," I said.
She looked at me quizzically.
"Yeah, it was GOOD," I said. "You're not supposed to be serving good fruit salad in an airport. It's against the rules. Homeland Security has laws against these things."
She melted into a smile and said, "Oh, you sure had me worried there for a minute. I was thinking that watermelon was a day too old."
"Wait," I said. "You cut your own fruit salad? You mean it's not imported from Tulsa or someplace?"
"Oh, no. And I make all the pies, and all the muffins and cookies, too. Did you like your pie?"
My answer to her: "I'll have two of the muffins, please. And thank you so much for being here today."
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
After check-in, I had to take my bag over to the two TSA men feeding suitcases into the large x-ray machine in the middle of the concourse.
"Morning," I said.
"Morning," they replied in unison.
"You guys aren't that busy today," I said. "Mind if you run me through that thing? I haven't had an MRI for awhile."
"Oh, yeah, you betcha!" one guy said, laughing. "But it's gonna cost ya."
"I've got a quarter," I said.
"Oh, no, the price has gone up. It's 50 cents now," he said with a Santa wink.
But perhaps the best part of my visit to the Grand Forks International Airport was this:
Yep. No traffic. And for a boy who lives in congested Florida, this was the most welcome treat of all.