This is the second part of my airport story. Check out the first part here!
So anyway, I trusted the guy at the Lufthansa counter and decided to take his advice. He gave me an invite to the Lufthansa first class lounge (Sweet) so that I can go inside with the lady. I figured I will just have to wait with her for a while, make myself a Bloody Mary or two, and then proceed to take her to her gates and wave her goodbye. Sure it sucked to wait for another hour, but it wasn't like I was waiting with the rest of the coach class cretins ( for once). I was in the first class lounge, chilling on a leather seat couch, with all kinds of munchies and drinks to satisfy any gluttonous desire I may have. This wasn’t bad at all.
Anyway, an hour came and passed and finally a nice stewardess came to inform me that it is time to take the lady upstairs cause they will start boarding first class passengers in 10 minutes. So I take her out of the lounge and push her wheelchair into the elevator and we get out in front of the security checkpoint and ahead of everybody else.
Now, let me explain to you how the security checkpoints functioned back then, cause they have changed since. You had two kinds of people standing at the checkpoint: Those in military uniforms (Guardsmen) and those in suits (regular airport security people). The guardsmen greet you, check your papers, and see that you do have a valid ID and a boarding pass, and if you do they let you pass on to the suits, who are standing next to the two metal detectors and whose job is to search you. Once you are searched and found to be “clean”, you are allowed to pass through and on to your gate. I was thinking that the security people at Logan airport were probably extremely on edge, since two of the airplanes hijacked on 9/11 came from there. In my mind I was cursing the fact that it had to be this airport of all airports and that I had a goatee on my face ( middle-eastern men with facial hair = suspect) because I was too lazy to shave the rest of my facial hair the other day. Oh well, too late to worry about it now I thought to myself. Let’s get this over with.
(The time to hesitate is through)
So I go up to the guardsman and I give him her passport, her ticket and her boarding pass, which he inspects for a second and then asks me the 4 word question that I dreaded the most :” Where are you papers?”
I immediately start mumbling, and telling him the story, and how the Lufthansa person told me that since they were out of EMS people that I can push her through and that he said that will inform you guys and how he even said trust me. The young guardsman listens, then gives me back the lady’s papers and tells me to wait a minute till he asks his boss ( a young attractive blond woman also in military uniform with a big weapon…HOT!) if she knows anything about what I am talking about. He then leaves me standing there and crosses behind the checkpoint and starts talking to her, both giving me their backs. Behind me the line started getting long and since we are the first in line no one else was getting through and people were giving us looks and the lady- who didn’t speak or understand English- asked me what the hold up was and I told her not to worry and that I have everything under control.
Two minutes- which seemed like an eternity- passed and the guardsman and the woman were still talking, and the people behind us started getting restless, because they are all first class passengers and goddamn it, they deserve faster service. Sensing the future bitchiness emenating from the line behind us, one of the suits took the initiative and came over and asked us what the story was. I explained it all to him and how I was waiting on the guardsman so I can get her through to the gate. The security guy nods his head understandingly, gives me her papers and tells me to ignore both metal detectors and instead push her through this makeshift door on the right of the metal detectors. I am like “ and we don’t have to worry about getting searched?” and he smiles and says “No worries. We do this all the time for the patients. Go and pass through that door. Trust me!”
( Those two goddamn words again!)
So I followed the directions of the nice man in black suit to the relief of everyone in the line behind me, and I pushed her through the door on the side of the security checkpoints. No one said anything to me, no one was standing at the door, no one was even bother by the fact that I had no ID or boarding pass. I pushed her through the door and I have successfully passed through the two security checkpoints without an ID, boarding pass or getting searched. I laughed in secret about the so called “post 911 strict security procedures” and proceeded to push her away from the area…
….when the explosives smelling dog started barking like a maniac at us!
And then what happens next happens pretty damn quick:
The guardsman that I spoke to 5 minutes ago, turns around, sees me passed all security checkpoints when he knows that I have no boarding pass nor ID and points his rifle at me and yells “FREEEEZE!”
Every single person standing in line- as if a fire broke out- in 2 seconds retreated backwards 30 feet (They saw a middle-eastern male with a goatee pushing a veiled woman on a wheelchair having the explosives dog bark at him and guardsman pointing their weapons, I don’t blame them!) and were now standing next to the escalators…..
Four other guardsman follow the first guardsman suit and point their gun towards our direction……
I immediately raise my hands in the air….
And the lady, who doesn’t understand a word of English, was having a heart attack on her wheelchair….
And the freakin dog will not stop barking and jumping up and down in our direction, held only by another male Suit.
( Ladies and Gentlemen, We have just lost cabin pressure!)
“HOW DID YOU BYPASS THE SECURITY CHECKPOINT?”, the guardsman yells at me as he is approaching me cautiously.
“Ehh” I mumble nervously, “ This guy told me to go through that door”, pointing at the security guy and the unguarded door “,after I told him what I told you!”, I say.
The guardsman is now standing 4 feet away from me, weapon still pointed, the lady is a puddle of sweat, fear and hysteria and I have 4 other guns pointed at me from all direction now, and he asks me in his military Huhwa tone of voice: " WHAT KIND OF EXPLOSIVES ARE YOU CARRYING?”
“I am not carrying any explosives” I say and I am thinking, OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT..
( His fingers are trembling. He is as scared shitless as I am)
“DON’T LIE TO ME! THE DOG SMELLED EXPLOSIVES. WHAT’S IN THAT PLASTIC BAG ON THE SIDE OF THE WHEELCHAIR?”
“Those are her medicines man, the lady has cancer and she has a lot of medicines. There are no explosives on either one of us. I swear!” I say frantically, and I add “ See for yourself”. The guy moves cautiously to grab the bag, and my mind is racing : why is the dog barking at the medicine bag? Does she have beef jerky in it or something? But he is an explosives dog, he won’t bark for beef jerky. Why would he barking at her medicines? And then suddenly my mind registers the answer and it all makes sense….
(Oh no. Not that! No, no, no. It can’t be that! That would just be so stupid..)
and suddenly a complete look of boredom and annoyance crosses over my face and replaces the fear and wave my arms in frustration as I yell in my Eureka-but-this-was-so-obvious-and-boring voice :” Nitroglycerin Pills! Freakin Nitroglycerin pills! I can’t fuckin believe this shit!”
And like an infection the boredom look is transferred to everyone in proximity and all the weapons go down amidst the sighs of annoyance and relief. The Guardsman is looking at me with relief in his eyes and I am so annoyed by him at the moment and I start getting pissed off as he opens the half see-through plastic bag and realize that what I am saying is true. I start patting the lady on her back and tell her to relax and that it’s all over and OK. Her hyperventilation stops pretty quickly and it seems that she isn’t gonna get a heart attack and die in Boston after all.
The Guardsman approaches me with the medicines and he says “ You are supposed to report these on your passport! Where is her passport?” and I give to him and he realizes that it is mentioned there after all. He starts looking just a little embarrassed now. I was giving him such an angry look, that if looks could kill he would have to be buried twice.
Trying to save face he yells at me :” Well, you still weren’t supposed to bypass both checkpoints like that without a boarding pass and an ID!” and that’s when I yell back :”How is that my fuckin fault? You guys let me pass through! Don’t yell at me for your shit! And by the way, you almost gave this woman a heart attack. If she had died it would’ve been on your hands. Not to mention, if you people had enough EMS personnel in this airport anyway, WE WOULDN’T BE IN THIS MESS.”
(Payback is a bitch, huh?)
The guy looks at me and then says “ well, still, we can’t let you continue taking her to her gate.” Which I respond to quickly “ Then how is she supposed to get there genius?” and his boss comes in and she says to me “ We will send her to her gate. You don’t have to worry about it. And we are sorry for any inconvenience. Everyone is on edge these days. Surely you understand!”
And I did. I understood perfectly. It still sucked though. Anyway..
So they agreed to take her to the gate and escort her on the plane and I left the airport while giving every other first class passenger standing in the line “what the fuck are you looking at?” glances. I go home and I post the following on my away message:” Just got held at gun point at Logan airport for carrying explosives and I wish I was kidding!”
Within an hour I had like 50 instant messages asking me what the deal is and if I was ok. I proceeded to tell them all the story. Some thought it was funny, some (mostly Arabs) thought it was disturbing that they would treat me-Arab- like that, while others(mostly Americans) thought it was disturbing that I did pass both security checkpoints like that. Sure, I wasn’t guilty, but what if someone who was guilty did the same thing? What if there was no explosives dogs that time? They were worried!
Amongst those people was my good friend Jason, who was a marine reserve who was also studying political science. Later that week they had a guest speaker in one of his classes who has the deputy governor of Massachusetts, who was talking to them about 9/11 and what Massachusetts is doing about terrorist and terrorist threat and security and all that. After he was done he allowed people to ask questions, and Jason raised his hand. When he got called he told him my whole story and then his question was :” well apparently you guys aren’t doing enough, if someone like my friend could do all that and pass both checkpoints without a boarding pass and ID and carrying Nitroglycerin at the same time. What do you guys intend to do about this?”
The deputy governor reportedly told him that he didn’t hear about this incident before, but that he will investigate it immediately and thanked him for informing him of what happened.
3 days later the head of Massport (The agency overseeing Massachusetts air and sea ports) resigned!