An Airport Story

And today I had to do it all over again – in reverse.  So I woke up early, breathed deeply a dozen times and got to the Fort Lauderdale airport early enough to face the security lines without panic, only to discover that I was the only person going through security and that everyone on the TSA team seemed to have gotten up on the right side of the bed, had a good breakfast and graduated from charm school. 

Here’s proof: A TSA woman met me at the start of the x-ray’s conveyor belt and helped me get my stuff arranged in the bins!

Then I walked through the metal detector and the inspector on the other side commented on the pretty pink ink my Mom had used to print out my boarding pass!

All this put the New Yorker in me on high alert. This had to be some kind of set-up.  Maybe we were being filmed for an airport courtesy propaganda clip.  Maybe I was on Candid Camera.  Everyone was so cheery I half expected to find milk and cookies in the pat-down area.

Floating along on this surreal cloud of bonhomie, I was almost relieved when, instead of just whizzing through the scan, my suitcase had to be looked at a second time.  I was at the end of the belt, gathering the rest of my stuff and re-shoeing, when the guy inspecting the computer image of my carry-on called me back.

“Do you collect Hummels?” he asked.

Who woudda thought? 

What he was looking at were a couple of porcelain figurines made by the Hummel factory in Germany that my mother had wrapped up in old towels and given to me.  “No,” I said, “I don’t collect them and I don’t know anything about them.  These were my mom’s.  She’s had them forever and just decided to pass them along to me.”

“Madam,” he said, “From what I can see, it looks like you’ve got good pieces here.  They could be (…pause … nod) worth something.”  Then he gave me this little lesson:  “When you get home, look at the numbers on the bottom – the lower the number, the more valuable the figure.”

“It’s true,” said the man who’d checked my pink boarding pass.  “You’ve got to look at the numbers.”

By that point, I was giggling and shaking my head in disbelief. 

“You guys are amazing!” I chirped.

“Yeah, we’re not so bad after all, are we?” asked the Antiques Roadshow expert. 

I knew the question was rhetorical, but I called out “not so bad” anyway.