01 August 2012

When bombs threaten

Earlier today there was a bomb threat at the San Antonio airport, leading to the evacuation of the airport.  Some passengers were led landside, while others found themselves on the tarmac, as seen in the picture.  One of my good friends got caught up in this mess.  Thanks to the interwebs and Facebook, she kept us posted on the shenanigans at SAT.  Fortunately, it was a false alarm and she's on her way again.

This was not her first airport bomb threat.  I was with her for her last one.  That bomb threat was the culmination of one wild trip.  Buckle up, here's the rest of the story (sorry, dead Paul Harvey).

This happened several years ago.  We were returning to San Diego from a conference in Dallas.  It was summer.  It was hot.  It was thunderstorm season. Mother Nature was particularly agitated that day and all flights were delayed. It didn't help that much of the East Coast was in a blackout.  When we got to DFW, we learned our flight to Los Angeles was heinously delayed but we were with a bunch of colleagues and we camped in the crappy Red Carpet Club, waiting out the delay.  The delay went so long we were eventually kicked out of the Club as it closed.  We were the only ones of our group still left.  We'd been rebooked through Denver but still no plane.  We decided to get something to eat at the McDonalds in the airport.  Upon placing our order, we were told the most terrifying words you'll ever hear at the Arches, "Um, sir, we ain't got no more meat.  We run out of meat."  My blood ran cold or maybe it was my heart stopping ever so briefly knowing it had won a reprieve. That said, we were aghast.  No meat!  Ridiculous.  So we slogged back to the gate and sat down on the floor, awaiting our chariot to Denver.

Our plane finally landed and we were nearly trampled, I mean trampled, by a herd of German tourists who came off that plane like a bomb out of Messerschmitt over London in WWII.  After that brush with near death, we were able to board and we settled into our seats in First.  Things were normal after take-off and then it got weird.  I glanced out the corner of my eye and saw something a little funky in the galley.  I thought maybe I was hallucinating. I tapped my friend and asked her if I was seeing things.  Based on her expression, I was not.  The flight attendant, clearly a new mother, was using a breast pump and filling a couple of bottles.  Into the galley cooler the bottles went and out went my desire for anything with ice for the rest of the flight.

When we landed, we were told that we were the only two dopes who would be given hotel rooms for the night.  Everyone else who had missed their connections would be enjoying a night on the floor at the airport.  So we get trundled off to a hotel near the old Denver Airport since the newer Denver Airport is actually in Nebraska and didn't have a single hotel near it at the time.  When we got to the hotel at close to 2AM, we were greeted by fire trucks, lights blaring, and firefighters running into the hotel.  Of course.  So what did we do...we walked right in.  Clearly this hotel was used to visits from the fire department because the front desk welcomed us with open arms and said not to worry about it, it was just a little fire.  Seriously.  He checked us into our respective rooms.  To say there was trepidation and very little sleep would be an understatement.

So, if you're keeping score, we've had a blackout, an apocalyptic encounter at McDonalds, nearly trampled by angry Germans, a bizarre nursing moment, and a hotel on fire.  What else could happen?  That would be the bomb threat. Figuring that we'd pressed our luck significantly trying to get back to San Diego, we left for the airport early, hoping the wreckage of our reservations were still intact. The woman that assisted us took a look at our records and could not believe that we weren't completely irate about all that had gone down.  We started to joke that there wasn't much else that could happen and then it did. The bomb threat.  This was only a few years after the horrific events of 9/11 and the agent was having none of it.  She was gone and I mean gone before you could say 'Please leave.'  We just started to laugh and made our way to the exit.  It was declared safe even before we left, which was weird.  Again, all we could do was laugh.  We were delighted to learn our flight would be on time and that we'd be getting home that morning.

I'd like to say that there was no more drama.  At least there wasn't for me. I wasn't the one who drove into President Bush's motorcade and got pulled over by the Secret Service, guns drawn.  That was my friend.  Good times. We've vowed to never travel together again.  That's probably a good decision.

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