Thursday, December 9, 2010

Land of the Free, and the Home of Body Scan Metal Detectors and Inexpensive Soda...

I am back in America! Inhaling those sweet smog fumes over La La Land. I got through the 14 hour flight, possibly with less than 30 minutes sleep (I know I missed part of Christmas Vacation, but I still saw most of it.) But the fun didn't really start until the plane landed. I spent quite a lot of time in the maze known as LAX international arrivals. Delta assured me this is a temporary condition, but never the less, even as temporary, things need to be a little more organized. You walk and walk through long corridors, which in and of itself isn't bad, but there is no signage to reassure you that you are going the right way. To claim your baggage, instead of just labeling on the screens, you have to try and hear the inaudible system tell you where your bag should show up. The very butch passport check in lady seemed annoyed that I spent 3 months vacation in Australia, but the customs guy was nice, smiled when I explained the food I claimed was all candy, and made sure I had all my bags. But once through customs, you hand your bag to some guys throwing it on trolleys, say a little prayer it shows up for it's date with you in RDU, then follow signs for connecting flights through a door. You find yourself in an empty room, clearly under construction, but with no further signage as to what to do. The next room is a series of non-working baggage claim conveyor belts, and in your current room is an escalator feeding people to your level, an elevator, and a set of stairs with a sign above it telling you "do not enter." I paced around that room a few minutes before noticing a small sign in the corner, on the floor, saying Delta departures at terminal 5. I go outside, walk down to terminal 5, and see no one inside. It still looks very much under construction. I do see someone in red looking official, so I walk in, making sure I am looking very confused. She offers help, I tell her I am looking for security to my connecting flight. Giving me a bit of attitude because I am sure she does this at least 40 times a day, she points me down another unlabeled corridor, well, it's labelled once you're in it, but once you're in it, you know where you are going. Another ridiculously long corridor, then security. Now a pro at this, I whip out my laptop, line my bags up, ready to feed them through. A security guard points at me "Take off your shoes." Ah, welcome home. I haven't done this one in three months, and I can't say I missed walking barefoot on the disgusting, heavily traveled floor. I had my first experience with the "naked body scan thingie" (my name), then thought I was in for a pat down too because I was still roped in, but was waved through, retrieved my bags and re-shoed myself, and scurried away to my gate. It is two hours before my flight, and I am craving a nice fountain drink. I went to the McDonalds, ordered a medium Dr. Pepper (I have missed you so!) and a bottle of water and spent $4.78. Now I am sipping my medium fizzy sensation, which is bigger than a large in Australia, and I did in with half the money I would have used down under. God Bless America!

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