Friday, September 29, 2006
Air Force One
An interesting little detail at the Birmingham airport as Air Force One landed so the President could attend a lunch with Governor Riley. Apparently when the Presidents’ plane is coming in to land, all other air traffic ceases, at least on the ground, and the air is cleared for his landing. I took a picture of the plane sitting.
It didn’t take too long to get things moving back to normal, then there came an announcement that we weren’t to panic but that a suspicious item had been located and the appropriate personnel were being brought in take care of the situation and for everyone in the airport to move in an order fashion to the nearest exit from the building. Well, that’s an interesting announcement. Everyone just kinda looked at each other and then started gathering their stuff heading for the security checking areas we had all just come through, one at a time. Thankfully, another voice came across the intercom telling everyone not to leave the building, that there would not be an evacuation, repeat, do not leave the building. That’s a good thing. Sure would have stopped up the pipeline to have everyone vacate and then, assuming nothing happened, come back in and start the whole process over at once.
I did say a prayer of thanksgiving immediately following the instruction to stay. That would have sure changed the course of my day.
As it was, we arrived in Houston a bit behind schedule and our 45 minute layover time was cut down to about 35, so we sprinted down the corridors and made it to the next flight with a few moments to spare. As always, hurray to stand in line and wait on the tarmac, then the plane slowly made its way to take off time, about an hour later. I’d never really experienced that kind of delay, revealing how very limited my own travel experiences are when it comes to flying. Yes, I’m the one who feels more than a little bit of panic every time I’m trying to get to the airport two hours early so that ‘just in case’ there are any unforeseen problems, there will be time to deal with them and not miss my flight. Always trying to anticipate so that I’m prepared, possibly a vice, clearly producing more anxiety than is technically necessary to function. But it is what it is.
I did encounter a nice lady in the rest room in B’ham who was dealing with a wheel chair and trying to get into the bathroom stall. It felt good to lend her a hand with the chair and the big door and then push her on down the corridor to her terminal. Wish I’d had more time. I’m sure she had some stories to tell. Seems she’d just had some sort of spinal surgery. She already knew that the President’s plane was delaying air traffic and mentioned something about knowing someone at the Pentagon and connected with Homeland Security. Course, these days, everyone knows someone connected to Homeland Security, it seems.
I’m always reminded at airports of just how interesting people are to watch. Some never look you in the eye but a lot do and for just a brief moment I try to share a smile, a brief recognition that I see and acknowledge them and their existence. People are moving so fast, taking time to make eye contact and ever just listen to them is something we neglect to do, and so vital in these day to day lives we lead. So many people coming and going. Plans set in motion. Schedules to make. Deals to make. Bills to pay. I suspect the busy-ness of all this contributes to our commoditizing our time. Billable hours. No time for eye contact and a ‘real’ conversation with a ‘real’ person. Someone who may just be needing to connect with some real person.
A movie is playing on the screen overhead. Xmen Three I think it is. A free movie but you must buy your headset for $5 and then you can use it on other Continental flights that you might be taking in the future, if you remember to bring it the next time. Bruce is sitting here just watching the screen. I guess a movie is entertaining for sure if you can sit and watch it without the benefit of either the sound track. Music makes most good movies so not having that to influence the mood and drama is another interesting hole in the story line. It’ll be interesting to see what he has to say about it when it’s over.
I sent an instant message to my son about Air Force One in B’ham. Maybe he’ll call me later. We’ll see. He sure is busy these days.