Sometimes I think I am living under a travel curse–at least for that last trip. I haven’t been happy about flying since they first made me take off my shoes. The TSA doesn’t understand how important shoes are to old ladies, especially on hard floors. So I’ve been taking the train or bus–no security, no problems. Having more time than anything else I bought a ticket on the Megabus to go to New York the day before I had to be there. I chose Megabus over Greyhound Express because they had an 11am departure, in addition to the ghastly early and not-quite-overnight trips. On December 15 I made a reservation to go to New York on January 4 at 11am. I got to the departure point about 10:30 with a few people in front of me and about 20 or 25 people finally lined up after me. It was a bitter cold day. The bus from Harrisburg arrived and passengers dispersed. The bus to Washington D.C. came and went. The bus to Philly came and went. About 11:10 a Megabus employee asked us which bus we were waiting for, then told us there was no 11am bus; we would have to wait until 12. Megabus, which does most of its business online, never notified us the schedule had changed. We walked off to find someplace warm and came back a half hour later. The employee told us we could call and complain, which I did, but never heard from Megabus again. Needless to say, except for this public complaint, they won’t hear from me again.
Coming back to Pittsburgh I flew with Robin. She could not have taken the bus and I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to do it again. She had a huge, heavy suitcase and a heavy backpack for her laptop and other technology. She isn’t supposed to lift anything over 5 lbs. and I probably can’t lift much over 10 lbs. We got lots of help. A skycap took care of the heavy suitcase and someone from the airline walked us over to security. We took a bunch of those trays and put our stuff into them: my coat and shoes, Robin’s coat and shoes, her backpack, her laptop, her jacket, my jacket, my suitcase, etc. Etc. because I know there were more than six trays. I started to move the trays toward the scanner and suddenly realized I would have to move everything to another table next to the first but not connected to it. So everything had to be lifted over. This was obviously a tour de force of design and efficiency. I finally got everything going through the machine, then a little nervous about having it piling up on the other side without me, I walked through the metal detector and set it off.
I don’t know what did it. I had on my watch (plastic, but who knows what’s inside), my hearing aids (ditto), pants with a metal zipper, and of course, my pacemaker. I’ve walked through other times with same and no consequences, but I mentioned it and the TSA turned white. She literally did not know what to do with me. Finally, still in stocking feet, she patted me down. The advantage to being my age is that I’ve been to so many doctors and had so many other nasty experiences, I just didn’t care. The only really annoying part was being shoeless. She found nothing, but, surprise, something in my possessions set of an alarm somewhere. Another TSA (all female; a man would have been more fun) took me, shoeless, to another place and did another pat down. She discovered the dirty tissues in my pocket; the other one ignored them. They finally concluded I wasn’t a terrorist, then Robin and I got a ride of one of those electric carts over to the gate. We had help going down the jetway steps and up the plane steps with our stuff; by now just the coats, backpack and my carryon. In Pittsburgh we were met with a wheel chair. Neither of us needed it, so we piled all the stuff on, now including my suitcase, and walked with the attendant to the baggage claim where Steve met us. More about New York next time.