The first incident, which I figured was just a gate attendant being – well, in truth I couldn’t figure out what exactly she was being, besides snotty.
It happened at Port Columbus, at the front end of my Los Angeles trip, at the departure gate,
shortly before my plane left for Los Angeles. I had a carry-on suitcase, and whenever I have a
carry-on I usually ask at the gate if they’ll be needing volunteers to have their carry-ons checked ( that way I don’t have to schlep the thing around with me during the lay-overs. Which wasn’t even the case this time, my flight was direct to LA, so I don’t know why I even pursued it . Just force of habit, guess), in which case I offer to volunteer before the general announcement is made. I just figure it saves time to get it done before the rush, and the gate attendants often take me up and give me a bag-check tag in advance.
I did the same this time, but this particular gate attendant, a nice-looking middle-age-ish blonde lady, appeared to be too engrossed in her computer screen to acknowledge me. What I did next was, in retrospect, a little goofy, I guess, and I’m not sure why I did it, except that it was a thing I’ve always felt like doing, purely out of curiousity:
Okay, so, you know those measuring things they have at the check-in counter , a wire slot thing, supposedly the size of the overhead bins, that indicates how big a piece of overhead luggage can be?
Well, that slot always looks ‘way smaller to me than my carry-on suitcase, and I’ve always wondered if a carry-on would really fit into that slot.
Well, next to the the desk of the too-busy gate attendant was one of those slots. For
some reason I chose today as the day to do that thing I’ve always wanted to do, that is, stick my carry-on bag into it the see if it would actually fit. And that might well have been all well and good, except that as I lifted my suitcase to stick it into the slot I said, to no one in particular, and probably a little too loud, “I wonder if this’ll fit.”
As soon as I said that the gate attendant became suddenly more interested in watching me than in watching whatever was going on on her screen. And my suitcase didn’t fit. Not exactly. Not very well. Halfway down the slot the wheels got stuck.
“That’s too big!" the gate attendant cried. " You should have checked it at the counter!”
I gave my suitcase a gargantuan shove and squished it into the slot.
“It fits!” I cried.
“No it doesn’t fit,” the gate attendant snapped, “you have to able to slide it in and out easily.
That bag has to be checked!”
She returned to her computer and began typing fast and furious. I assumed she was typing up a $25 bill for me for not checking my too-big bag at the check-in counter. I waited there at the desk, publicly busted, digging into my purse for my credit card.
Feeling like the kid standing outside the principal’s office, I waited. And waited.
But the gate attendant never turned back to me. Was I going to be charged to check my luggage or not? Did she mean that I supposed to go back out through security to the check-in counter and take care of it myself? Finally I just slunk back to the waiting area.
I looked at everyone else’s carry-ons. They all looked the same size as mine. How come mine was too big? How come nobody else was in trouble? Of course I knew it was because nobody else was dumb enough to draw a target on themselves.
A little later the gate attendant made the announcement requesting volunteers to have their carry-ons checked. “provided,” she added “your luggage does not exceed the allowed carry-on
I figured I knew who that was directed at. Now, if I had some chutzpah going on I’d have marched right up to have my bagged checked for free with the others, unminding any grief that blonde biddlyatcher gate attendant might sling my way, prepared to sling it right back. But alas, I
seldom ever even dip my toe into the chutzpah pool, I’m to busy flopping around
for dear life in the choppy waters of the Anxiety Ocean.
So I waited until my boarding zone was called, sweating slightly and hoping that my nemesis gate attendant wouldn’t rat me out to the other attendant, who was scanning the
boarding passes, before I made it through.
I tried to look all innocent though my heart was pounding as the scanner waved me by. Then I was on the entrance ramp to the plane, only one more hurdle to jump – had the gate
attendant alerted the flight crew to watch out for a lady who might be trying to smuggle on a too-big piece of overhead? Would my suitcase not fit this time? Had they shrunk the size of the
overheads to the actual size of the measuring thing?
The flight crew smiled and welcomed me aboard. My suitcase fit into the overhead just fine.
Like it always does.
The moral of this story?: Those overhead luggage- measuring things are BS-ing liars.
The second event , which occurred yesterday on the Los Angeles-Phoenix leg of my return trip, was less involved but, in view of the first incident, was, I felt, weighted with significance.
Most of the passengers were already on board the plane, which was as crowded as a sardine can. A sweet, chirpy female voice came on over the microphone and requested that smaller carry-on bags be placed under the seats, not in the overhead. The overhead was only for luggage and large roller bags. Then the voice added, in a no-longer sweet, chirpy tone:
“It’s a new year. How about you all start trying some courtesy.”
“Whoa,” though I, “harsh!” And, well snotty.
Later on the second leg of my trip, Phoenix-Columbus, one of the flight attendants was the friendliest, motherlyest, most job-enjoying lady. This lady, as if sensing my previous travails, offered me during this trip such a wealth warm-fuzzies that, I must say, she more than made up for the transgressions of her sister crew members.
The moral of this story:
Well, it’s just so obvious, right?! 8)