As I approached the line to check in to my Aer Lingus scoot across the Atlantic, a petite asian woman in a blue uniform asked, rather loudly, “Anyone check bags?” I thought it an odd question, as I was joining a line of people hauling huge suitcases. She gestured in the direction of the express line, and my first thought was that she really meant “Anyone NOT checking bags?” Then I noticed the two small bags sitting untended at the entrance to the express lane. The woman hustled off to notify security.
OK, I knew that the bags were just the property of some doofus who had ignored the constant droning of the “don’t leave your bags unattended” messages, and had left their personal belongings lying around in Los Angeles. Still, as no one arrived to claim the bags, I couldn’t help but worry. Just how big a doofus was this? Did the doofus seriously expect to find his (or her, judging by the pink striped bag) belongings still there after ten minutes and more?
A security guy arrived, circled the bags at a distance like a shark assessing prey, then backed off and talked into his radio. Then nothing happened, followed by more nothing. Finally the guard approached again, closer this time, looking for a name tag on the bags. Then he backed away again, regarding them with some reluctance (“why do these things always happen on my shift?”). More time, another pass by the bags, closer, inspecting them longer.
So, I’m expecting someone to arrive with some sort of steel bin on wheels. In go the bags, and there’s nothing to see here, move along.
Nope. No other security personnel arrive, there is no other response. The security man on the scene went to a nearby information desk and there might have been an announcement over the PA about the luggage. (“Your attention please. mfflmfllffmflllf.”) Still no owner.
Finally, the doofus shows up. The security guy doesn’t even notice him for a time, until doofus stoops to put a name tag on one of the bags. Security guy talks to the doofus for a moment, and the guy is allowed to carry on with his carry-on luggage. Happily, not on my flight.
Note to people considering leaving bombs in airports. At LAX you have about half an hour to get away while the security people are paralyzed, unable to perform the very simple procedures explained over the PA every five minutes.
Finally, it was my turn to check in.
“When are you coming back?” the airline baggage-taking girl asked me, after typing in my passport number.
“I’m not sure,” I answered.
“You don’t have an itinerary or anything that shows when you’re leaving again?”
“Are you staying more than three months?”
“No.” When she asked the question, that answer became the truth, providing I don’t have my visa by then.
She tapped some more keys, but didn’t look optimistic. “I’ll have to check,” she said, and took my passport and disappeared into the mysterious bowels of the Airport Beast. I waited, aware of the people in line behind me and mentally making contingency plans. It was early yet; I could buy a ticket to Croatia or back to the US and then check in. Airline Baggage-Taking Girl returned. “You’re all right,” she said. “But the immigration official might want to see proof that you can afford a return ticket.”
Man, I sure hope she’s right. By the time I’m able to post this I’ll have the answer.
Or not! Free WiFi in LAX! We already knew that Albuquerque was so civilized, but this is a pleasant surprise.
Or not not! RSS feeds work, but not http requests. eMail is right out. By the time you learn about my close call, the situation will be resolved.
In Dublin now – the passport guy didn’t run my passport through the computer at all. Maybe they’ll do that in Prague. Meanwhile it’s 10:00 and I’m enjoying a nice pint of Kilkenny. Yum!