Why am I such a fan of the war on terror? Probably because I want to win it and get back to the airports the way they used to be. Up until September 11, 2001 it was easy to gauge your relationship based on the proximity of your friends, relatives or loved ones to your departure or arrival at the airport. Now we're stuck outside. Dropped at the curb - call me from baggage claim.
Many years ago, I flew into Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. I was there to spend some time with friends in Scottsdale. When I got off the plane, I recognized something was different. There were no crowds of anxious faces facing the jetway as we walked onto the concourse. There was just lonely streams of people pouring out into empty gates. Where were the greeters? Where were the limo drivers with their tagboard signs? Where was my friend?
The news spread quickly through the passengers: No one was being allowed on the concourse because Nancy Reagan was flying in at the same time and no one was being allowed down to any of the gates because of heightened security. I wandered out to baggage claim, feeling lost and dejected. The measuring stick of any relationship used to be whether or not you were there to meet the plane at the gate. Now, suddenly I was awash with doubt. What if she's not there at baggage claim? Keep in mind, this was before the advent of cellular telephones - we relied almost exclusively on the arcane system of "White Paging Telephones." What if I didn't even get a page?
The good news is I did meet my friend at baggage claim and there was effusive apologies for the near miss (even though it was all the fault of our federal government - or at least the First Lady). Today I went to the airport to meet our friends coming in from Portland. We tried to work our new magic with short-term parking and cell phones, but we still ended up walking up to the terminal and watching the sea of people moving toward baggage claim. We made our connection. We met them on the way to baggage claim - which I believe makes us pretty good friends. I'll be glad when we win this war on terror so I can get back to waiting for my loved ones at the gate - where good Americans belong.