I think I may have tweeted about this while it was happening but it's a story that deserves documentation and probably a few pictures but I lost my camera in Colorado while it was happening and so now I don't have a picture of the clown man to prove anything. I actually think the TSA stole my camera as evidence and then when they figured out that I'm not actually a terrorist, they were too embarrassed to give it back. TSA, I forgive you, but I really need my camera back because I spent forever hours becoming a photography wizard and by "wizard" I mean "person who is able to turn her camera on and off without causing irreparable damage" so YEAH, TSA. If you send it back, we'll call it good and I won't sue you. I probably won't sue you anyway, though. This post is not going to get any more coherent than this, guys.
My Airport Adventure: A Tale of Loss, Achieving my Dreams, and Strange Men Dressed as Clowns in Terminal A (Part One)
By Megan Prietzel
"I wish I could go to Colorado and see BYU in the NCAA tournament," I said.
"We should just go," replied Tavia.
Shortly thereafter, Tavia called her father. I called my mother. After a series of phone calls involving massive amounts of whining and promises to be responsible and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE's, Tavia and I headed off to Colorado to support and cheer on our beloved BYU men's basketball team.
We left after our classes and headed to the airport. I was tingling with excitement and also inexplicable terror because airplanes are incredible. So incredible that I still refuse to believe that they are real. How can that much metal fly through the air like that? IT CAN'T, I TELL YOU. Except it does. THUS THE TERROR. Anyway, we arrived at the airport parking lot. Rain poured outside the car. Neither one of us wanted to leave the warm, enveloping comfort of the car's butt warmers, but we had a higher calling that day. We HAD to get to Colorado. And I vowed to be an adult that day! It would be my first airplane ride ever without my mommy. EVER. Tavia doubted that I had the capability to act like a functioning member of society for an entire airport visit, but I was going to prove her wrong. OH BOY, WAS I.
We left the car and lugged our two carry-on bags through puddles and into a little shack to await the airport shuttle. A very athletic looking woman joined us. At the time I was not ashamed because I visited the gym regularly. I am now ashamed. Anyway. The shuttle arrived and Tavia and I boarded, ready for our adventure. I sat on that crowded, damp bus with a grin on my face and I suppressed every urge to start singing "WE WE WE SO EXCITED! WE SO EXCITED!" because I was a freaking adult, everybody, complete with a real suitcase and a living person who was not my mom. It was to be the dawn of a new age.
We entered the airport. I could feel the magic of modern transportation at work around me, a magic that I was about to take part in. Unfortunately, I have this problem.
I am not the kind of person who copes well with new and unusual situations. Especially situations where something is expected of me, say like in a long line of rushing people in which I am expected to take off my shoes and fill a tub with all of my things as quickly as possible. Tavia is one of those capable people. She orders pizza on the phone because she doesn't mind talking to a person and telling him or her that she wants pepperoni. Her face doesn't burn bright red and her palms don't sweat and she doesn't start mumbling awkward sentences that sounded better in her head. That is why I desperately needed her.
We got in the airport security line thing. Tavia calmly removed her shoes and placed them in a plastic tub, along with her jacket and belt. She took a second tub and put her phone and laptop inside. Then she set them both on a conveyor belt with ease, followed by her suitcase. Meanwhile, my brain was going insane for no particular reason.
I am going to have to take off my shoes. What if I forget how to do that? What if I accidentally take off my pants instead? I WILL LOOK LIKE SUCH AN IDIOT. Oh my gosh. The people behind me are probably wondering why I don't have a plastic tub. Okay, so I um, grab this tub thing and um...put my shoes in it? Is that right? PANTS? TAVIA SHOULD I PUT MY PANTS IN IT? NO! No, Megan, get it together. Okay now set the tub on the movey-belty thing. WTFFF I need a SECOND TUB?? Oh dear heaven above. Okay uh...for my laptop? But my laptop is in my backpack...no no it's cool. I can do this. Man, this zipper is really difficult to open when my palms are this sweaty. IS EVERYONE LOOKING AT ME? Everyone is looking at me. I can't handle this pressure. IF I DO NOT GET THIS BACKPACK OPEN EVERYONE WILL DIE. Oh, I am truly blessed, it opened and I didn't drop my laptop. Okay, well now I just want everyone to stop looking at me. I can tell they're looking at me, even though they appear to be paying no attention at all. I'm gonna go ahead and toss the rest of my stuff in there as quickly as possible. And now it's all falling out of the tub. Um. I'll just put my backpack on top...Yeah that works. OH MY now I have to lift my suitcase and put it on the conveyor thing?? IS MY FOREHEAD SWEATING THAT MUCH, OR AM I IMAGINING THIS?? I bet the security guy thinks I'm a terrorist because I'm sweating so much. I'm not, security guy. I'm just incapable of performing simple tasks with an audience. Oh no. I can't lift this suitcase. I CAN'T DO IT I CAN'T DO IT I CA-oh hey, I did it. Kind of crooked...oh now it's stuck inside the scanning machine. I AM SUCH AN EMBARRASSMENT TO MY RACE.
Needless to say, my inner monologue did not help my awkward fear when, after successfully passing through the metal detector like a champ, the security man stopped me because he found something suspicious in his magical x-ray machine.
I knew it. He thinks I'm a terrorist. Or a drug dealer! I'm not though! ...Right? AM I? DID I BECOME A DRUG DEALER AND FORGET ABOUT IT? Just arrest me now, security man, I'll admit to anything. YES, IT'S MY COCAINE. AND MY GUN. ALSO MY PANTS, I THOUGHT I WAS SUPPOSED TO REMOVE THEM.
As it turned out I was not a drug dealer and actually the woman behind me had too much lotion in her carry on but the security man thought it was my bag and so I suffered a small heart attack.
After my face faded from bright red to its usual pasty white, Tavia and I decided to get something to eat. I felt as though Burger King was the only food I could want, mainly because we passed it on the way to the airport and I was starving and unable to actually consider my dining options. So Tavia and I sat at a table and waited for our food after ordering. Because I was convinced that my hunger was insatiable, I ordered the largest sized combo, which meant a beverage the approximate size and shape of my head. I filled it with Coke and headed over to sit with Tavia. I then promptly dropped the bucket of Coke right next to my chair and also kind of on my chair. Tavia stared at me for a moment before sighing and admitting that she should have known this would happen, and yeah, she sort of should have because she lived with me and THIS WAS A NORMAL OCCURRENCE.
I walked over to a nice little old lady who was mopping the floor and asked her to please clean up my mess. Just then my food was ready. Tavia and I sat and ate our fries and chicken nuggets as a sweet, elderly woman quietly mopped the floor around my feet. It was easily one of the most terrible moments of my life. I'll give you a moment to picture this. Keep in mind that all the surrounding tables were occupied by people who were staring and felt just as awkward as I did. Also keep in mind that I had tried to mop up the Coke with three forests' worth of napkins which did almost nothing but make a soggy brown mess that dripped all the way to the trash can and covered me in sticky soda. Ready? Got the horrible mental image? Good. Now hold it there for ten minutes and try to enjoy your chicken nuggets. YOU CAN'T.
After that disaster, Tavia decided it would be best just to go sit in our terminal and wait for the plane to board. As we sat in the terminal we saw a strange man. He had gone through airport security near us and we were mildly amused to see him n our terminal. He wore bright red overalls. His hair was a huge tangle of orange-brown curls. His shoes were distinctly clown-like. He carried an assortment of entertainments: bowling pins, rubber balls, batons, and the like. While we watched, he practiced juggling his bowling pins and unfortunately, he was not very good at it. He also got very angry with himself every time he dropped a bowling pin and I couldn't help but sympathize. I watched the clown man for half an hour before the effect of my bucket of Coke kicked in and I left to use the bathroom. As I walked back, I passed clown man.
"Hey there, pretty girl!" he said brightly.
"Oh, um, hi," I stammered back, surprised to be addressed.
"You dropped something back there"
I turned and looked at the ground, mentally kicking myself for losing my pants or something. I didn't see anything. Confused, I asked, "Um, what did I drop?"
"You dropped," here he paused and smiled coyly, "your smile."
"Ah, my smile. Yes. Ah. I'll just...pick it up..and...wear...it..." My mumbling degenerated quickly. Clown man appeared to be about 20. Clown man appeared to be talking to me. CLOWN MAN APPEARED TO BE WINKING AT ME. I desperately wished that I had anything, anything at all to say about my dropped smile. Instead, I shuffled awkwardly away, intensely aware of the fact that he was still looking at me.
He started juggling rubber balls. I started wondering what the appropriate reaction to this situation would be. Rebecca Black would not get out of my head.
The epic tale will continue in PART TWO, in which the TSA decided that my ponytail was a threat to national security.