This confusion was caused by extreme fatigue, since I had gotten up at 3 AM to make my flight and hadn't had much sleep before that. I have noticed a pattern in my life, which is that when I am alert and well-rested, everything goes smoothly, whereas if I am tired or suffering from over-imbibement or its rear-guard, the hangover, all hell breaks loose. That morning the cab I had scheduled to take me to the airport couldn't find me to pick me up until it was fifteen minutes past the time I wanted to be on my way. I had already set the pickup time daringly late, thinking I would have more time for the sleep I hadn't gotten. Then at security, I was eligible for the TSA Pre-Check line, because somehow the TSA has decided I am not much of a threat to flight security.
I don't know how they discovered this. It's true, although I didn't tell them so and I have never been conscious of being actively investigated. I asked the woman behind me how she had gotten special security status, and she didn't know either.
But it's cool. You don't have to take off your belt and shoes or unpack your computer. But it all turned to feces when the security person at the Pre-Check line told me my boarding pass, which I printed out on my mom's rarely-used computer with the slowly drying printer cartridges, wouldn't scan. "You have to get another one," she says. "Use that handy, close-by machine over there."
Then, as time ticked away towards my plane's boarding, I entered my info into the handy machine and the machine replied coolly, "Up yours. Go see a live person at the check-in counter."
At that point I had no choice but to go back down the escalator and get in line with the rest of the people who were too incompetent to print out their boarding passes before they got to the airport, or who had luggage to check. This line was long, and the person immediately in front of me was a stressed-out looking black man with three female relatives complaining to him simultaneously about the slow progress he was making at pushing their twelve suitcases towards the counter. A tall hippie cut the line in front of him, which meant he was also in front of me. I politely informed him where the back of the line was, then, spotting a line of other machines that promised to print out the boarding pass I so desperately needed, had to backtrack and ask him to hold my place in line while I gave the mechanical world another shot at screwing me.
Miraculously, it worked, and by that I mean was unscrewed. I rushed upstairs, back into the security line, shoved my stuff under the x-rays, passed through the ghostly imager, and promptly left my cell phone at security. In order to get it back, I had to charge into the security area the wrong way, a way well-marked with red minus signs and fierce DO NOT ENTER notices, so that I knew the likelihood of being Tased or Maced there was well-above average. Nobody paid attention to me violating security until I started yelling at them. They were pretty phlegmatic about my error—obviously I was not the first person who has left his or her cell phone at security—all they wanted to know is what my cell phone looked like.
"Like everybody else's cell phone," I said testily, because at that point I had just looked at my watch in a panic, and probably figured out subconsciously that a nice Tasing would calm me down. But then they discovered that I was the only idiot who had left his cell phone there in the last two minutes, so they handed it over with nothing more than a dirty look.
Then, minus my confiscated bag, I was my way.
The journey continues on Thursday.