There and Back Again

August 3, 2004

“A SHHH-ers Tale”

I hate to fly. I HATE TO FLY. I think that statement echoes many a HoH person’s feelings about travel. BWI is a big ol’ airport! But I’m very glad to say that my experience has been that the signs are conspicuous and well lit, and are up-to-date in regards to departures and arrivals. Signs to “check-in”, gates and security are easy to understand. My children told me that even a hearing person could understand the announcer on the loud speaker. My husband, well traveled individual that he is, took his family in tow and had us in and out of check-in very quickly. We were traveling with 12 bags, 4 of which were carry-on, so I anxiously counted bags and re-counted as they disappeared from my view on the conveyor belt. One quick prayer that they’d actually make it to Omaha, and we headed for the gates. I had been dreading security for over a week. My last experience was horrible. My HA’s set off the metal detector, and I was shuffled into a bullet-proof, plexi-glass tube with other “suspicious” looking characters to await my turn to be searched. I still have nightmares about it! I was so relieved I went through the detector without any bells and whistles going off, I actually turned to the security guard, pointed to my HA’s and asked, “I didn’t set it off?” What a dumb question. He waved me on to my family who had already situated themselves to be waiting indefinitely. My husband closed the book he’d just opened with a VERY surprised look on his face. “You got through?” (No dear, I vaulted over the officer whose gun was drawn and sprinted into the crowds to remain undetected and anonymous in the sea of rushing travelers!)

We changed planes in Minneapolis/St. Paul. What a tiny airport! That’s not a complaint, mind you…it made finding the next gate very easy. We didn’t even have to run, and merely walked very fast. My husband, Terry, tapped me to get my attention and mouthed, “OJ Simpson” and prepared to vault over some seats in the waiting area. I gave him a “look”…You know the kind! The, “if you dare make a fool of yourself in public and I have to pick your broken body up off the floor and cart you to the ER, I’ll wring your neck” kind of look. He opted to forego the jump; besides our kids have no idea who OJ Simpson is and it would not have been very exciting to have to explain to your children those old commercials from post-op.

As we approached Omaha, I was in awe of all the acres of farmland below. Truly, we were arriving in the mid-west. I saw “Omaha Steak”signs from the air as we landed! My son repeated everything the captain said over the intercom to me, and I noticed my husband waking up from across the isle. Omaha! O! was a symbol we soon recognized all over the city. We quickly rented a vehicle; “quickly” because my husband does everything online and had taken care of all the details before we even arrived. The convention center was within a couple of miles from the airport, so we soon were checking into the hotel. The Qwest convention center was beautiful! The center had very distinct architecture, and could be seen from miles away. I learned that this new structure was part of a re-vitalization project for downtown Omaha.…

And Back Again

I wish I could say our trip back was as uneventful! Omaha, being a smaller airport, lacked the sophisticated security checkpoints that BWI had. Security actually checks through your luggage at the reservation desk! For those of you who don’t travel a great deal, I will explain. LONG lines and signs with magnetic letters instead of computer screens informed us of the “latest information”. In the 28 minutes we waited in line, I never saw anyone change the magnetic letters, so I assume no changes were made. As we finally approached the first security guard, he asked how many bags we had. I chirped, “12 bags, 4 are carry-on”. His eyebrows rose and he motioned us to one side and took our bags. He and 3 other officers took our luggage to an area in front of registration. I could write a book about this experience! I’ll shorten it for the sake of this post, to say everyone now knows what color panties I wear, and every single one of my ALD’s was carefully examined and taken apart. The skies are safe from this HoH terrorist.

On to security, and I was not as lucky this time through. Bells and whistles, at least I gathered that as my family got whiplash as they turned with horrified expressions towards me as I exited the detector. A lady security guard approached me and I immediately tapped my METALIC badge that says, “Please face me. I read lips!” She was very kind and took me by the elbow over to a search area. She pointed to a seat with pictures on it of a person with both feet raised and another stick figure running a detector wand over their feet. I figured I was in good shape if everything was going to be in pictures. I sat, stuck my feet out and she quickly scanned my shoes.

“G-U-M…” she enunciated with a grin. Sure enough, gum on the bottom of my left tennis shoe. Knowing it was NOT the gum that had set off the detectors, I explained that I was “wired for sound”as she took me over to the next area. “No problem, I’m sure it’s nothing”, she explained. The next carpet had a pair of feet on it about 30 inches apart. While wondering what a short-legged person might do in this situation, I placed my feet on the “foot prints” on the carpet. The security guard carefully explained to me face-to-face that she needed me to stand with my arms out to the side, (which she demonstrated) and that she would use the wand to scan my person. My family, waited to the side. My daughter, Kyersten, looked horrified with a very worried expression. My son, Chris, was already looking for his “GameBoy”. My husband caught my eyes and smiled. Not the “I’m going to tease you about this later” kind of glance, but “calm down Honey………this is a piece of cake!” So with deep breath I waited as the guard scanned me from the front. My badge, HA’s, etc., all caused her to shake her head in the affirmative. (If they’d asked I could have told them! But they are doing their job, so I understood the need to be careful!) She then went behind me to repeat the procedure. She tapped me and said something.

As I didn’t have eyes in the back of my head, I craned my neck around toward her and said, “Excuse me?”She repeated herself, and I still didn’t catch it.

“I’m sorry, I can’t see you,” I stated emphatically. She came around in front of me and said with careful pronunciation, “It was your B-R-A. Your BRA! No problem!” I disagreed, as I saw my family’s wide-eyed reaction to this announcement. I didn’t have to ask if she’d shouted the news. Several grins from numerous directions informed me that many had heard this statement, although I had not! Oh well. This same crowd had seen my underwear 30 minutes ago.

Through security and on to the gate! There we discovered Dr. SamTrychin and wife Janet, Toni Barrient from SHHH national, “Emma” a SHHH’er from Alaska, and two CHHA leaders waiting at the same gate. Even though we were all exhausted from a long, but exciting week, we shared convention stories for almost an hour. We then discovered our flight had been cancelled. Evidently severe storms in the Detroit area, necessitated that our flight would be delayed… until tomorrow. Oh well…Omaha is a great place to spend another night. And just think of all the people who will get to see all of our “unmentionables” tomorrow!

Denise Portis
Frederick County SHHH
Frederick, MD
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary