How not to catch a 6am flight

Don’t get enough sleep for a few days. Guaranteed to kick up your chronic sinusitis.

Come home late the night before with an empty gas tank.

Rely on a text message alert to wake you up. (Fortunately I didn’t do this, set the regular alarm; seems the wireless wasn’t working in the house this morning, or something. Otherwise there would be no rest of this post.)

Spend half an hour figuring out what to wear. It’s one day. No packing required. But I’m going to the URJ Biennial to be the Jewish part of a panel on marriage equality, and it’s being held in Washington DC. If there’s anything I know about DC (and NYC), it’s dress the part if you want to have the most effect. Don’t make your clothes an obstacle you have to overcome on your way to establishing your credibility.

I know how to do this, more or less. But it means digging around to find the pieces that fit best and are currently stylish. Not my usual. Fortunately my spouse folded laundry yesterday and what I need is near to hand

By the time I’m done, though, my allotted half-hour has passed and I should be leaving for the airport.

Spend 5 minutes writing notes to your kids and a card to your spouse.

Realize while you are getting 5 gallons of gas that you don’t have your drivers license with you. In fact, you noticed this last Monday, but didn’t connect it with your upcoming flight.  You took it out of your wallet so you wouldn’t have to carry your purse into Albany County Family Court last week, on the joyous occasion of your friends *finally* adopting their two boys. Turned out you didn’t need an ID to get in. Your crocheting, however, had to be left at the desk and claimed upon exit; you can’t take a crochet hook into the courthouse.

You can, however, take it on a plane. Gone are the days when “the little old lady was kicked off for crocheting an afghan.”. You checked that last night and you grabbed a ziplock bag to carry it in.

Check the boarding pass. Check the email with the details that’s sitting in your purse. Nowhere does it say “photo ID needed,” but you’re pretty sure it is…

Look up the airline phone number on your cell phone web browser.  Call.  Wait on hold.

Realize that you can’t for the life of you remember what you were wearing on Adoption Day (of course, by now I do) and, although you’ve seen your passport in the last week, you don’t know where you put it for safekeeping.

Realize that time is running out. Nevertheless, point the car toward home.

As you’re pulling in the driveway, get reassurance from the customer rep that you can indeed board without a photo ID, just go to the ticket counter and they’ll give you a paper to help at security.

Turn around and drive to the airport. Sort quickly through your purse, wallet, and computer bag, pulling out the extraneous stuff that make them impossible to close. Put in gallon ziplocks that you’d grabbed back in the kitchen.  Find a way to put the shoes which are slightly-more-stylish-and-slightly-less-comfortable-for-lots-of-walking-than-your-running-shoes into these two carry-ons. Hurry down the stairs from the parking garage and into the terminal. Take the escalator upstairs. Discover that, as you should have remembered, the ticket counter is downstairs. Take the escalator downstairs.  Wait in line briefly. Explain in your hoarse voice what you’re there for. No, they don’t give you a piece of paper (come to think of it, how could they?), TSA will give me extra screening, and it’s now 5:30 am so I’d better hurry.

Wait in line.  Explain, twice, my problem. Other acceptable proofs of ID involve the insurance industry: a health insurance card or prescription medication. I pull out what I have: insurance, Social Security (who carries their Social Security card?  But I have mine), credit. Explain again.  Wait for a supervisor. Explain again.  Have documents examined minutely.  Get my boarding pass initialed and go through.

Somewhere in here I start wondering if I’ll have to surrender my beloved rubber chicken. A friend — in fact, one of the dads who just adopted — gave it to me a couple of years ago. I keep it in my winter coat for laughs — and we’re farmers, after all, our hens lay eggs and so does this one. (See photo.).  But that means it has a gel-like substance inside it, and I just read last night that gel shoe inserts aren’t allowed.

Rubber chicken

Check with the TSA agent. “For stress?” he smiles. I agree — whatever he says. The chicken isn’t automatically out, but it has to go through the scanner like my computer, separately and with nothing under or above it.   Take out computer, since I don’t have a TSA-compliant bag. Put 2 pairs of shoes in the bins. Jacket.  Am I comfortable taking off my sweater jacket? Yes, I am. Excuse me, I need another bin. Purse. Cell phone out and visible just in case.

Stand in the stupid full-body scanner with my arms over my head. Get my kipah patted down afterward.

The chicken comes out of the X-ray machine OK. But there goes my purse…rubber chicken "laying an egg"

I can’t remember. Is there a pocket knife in the bottom of my purse?

Maybe not, they’re just swabbing it, presumably for traces of explosive.  There’s not a clock in sight and my wristwatch hasn’t had batteries since before Rosh HaShanah. Time is passing. (Come to think of it, my non-working watch is in my purse.)

And yes, so is my pocket knife. The TSA official is very nice: I can take it back to my car or give to a friend to take home.  Oh, where’s that stamped, self-addressed envelope that the craft website recommended, so one’s sewing scissors et al. wouldn’t have to be forfeited??

My flight is at 6:00. I don’t know exactly what time it is but I know I don’t have time to go back to my car. ‘Bye, pocketknife. Farewell.

At the gate they’re waiting for me, the last passenger to arrive. Thank goodness. There’s a window seat in the second row. The sunrise is beautiful.  The flight is short and uneventful. There’s another young woman on the shuttle going to the Biennial and we have a lovely chat — can’t travel incognito in a kipah. Which is part of the point of wearing it.Sunrise from the plane - 2

My other seat mate in the shuttle (who is not going to the Biennial) seems rather taken aback when I include a mention of white skin privilege in my recounting of not having my drivers’ license.

That’s partly the legacy of focussing on Occupy this fall: awareness of privilege.Sunrise over clouds from plane to Biennial

So off I go to put the Jewish component into the panel discussion about the fight for marriage equality, for folks in states just gearing up.

If you’re catching a 6 flight, don’t do this either: After careful preparation, looking forward to a whole day in which to work on one’s Chanukah crochet projects, don’t sort out ziplock bags by feel in a hurry in the dark in the parking garage. You’ll undoubtedly take the one with the projects out of your purse.  At least I hope I did, else it’s lost in the airport somewhere.

Update: Arrived at the convention center and there’s no registration packet with my name on it. Naturally.

But it’s waiting at the help desk. You should be here!  It’s energizing, eye-opening, connecting. Even for one day, it recharges your Jewish batteries.  And there are so many good ideas and good people and good music.  I spent the morning listening to the Biennial Choir rehearse and wiping tears away as they practiced more of Debbie Friedman’s z”l melodies than I have heard at Biennial in a long time.

Update 11pm: The crocheting did indeed fall down by the drivers seat. All’s well. Now just to drive home.

Update next day:  No voice, but the session was relatively well-attended and some very good questions were asked.  You can see my list of resources on my Biennial profile page.  Now for some sleep!