The Time I Was a Buffoon

I can’t believe I did that.

Seriously, how many times have you gone to an airport and heard the overhead announcement about “unattended bags?”

You DON’T just leave a bag off to the side, or in this case, under a chair, by itself, at an airport. Period.  With all the times I’ve flown and as much time as I have spent in airports over the years, especially over the last couple of decades, I personally must have heard that announcement over a hundred times.

Plus, it’s common sense. You just don’t do that.

Unless you’re me.

So, I’m flying out of the brand-new Paine Field airport in Everett last week and I was so excited to see it. Seriously, it’s a showcase on how to do an airport–relaxed, simple, lots of help, tasty food for sale, etc. It’s been open almost a year and I had been able to sneak into a press preview event, but I didn’t really have a chance to walk around and see all there was to see until last week.

They had some really cool sling chairs that looked comfortable, right in front of a big window so that you could watch jets come and go. I saw an open seat and set up camp, putting down my glasses on the table next to my special seat, I put my coat over the back of the chair, and my briefcase in front of the chair.

But I wanted to get over and check out the Beecher’s snack bar (with that delicious Mac ‘n Cheese) and didn’t want to give up my great seat. There was no one really around, so I thought I could wander over to the snack bar, really quick. Since I was traveling by myself, I slid the laptop under the chair because as nice as the airport was, I didn’t want to tempt any would-be thieves.

I’ll bet I wasn’t gone more than 4-minutes and 27-seconds, but when I returned, I had guests. Standing there was a state trooper, an airport security guard and someone in a suit, obviously from the airport. Oh, the looks I was getting. “Uh, you know you left your bag unattended, right?” and I realized right then and there, I had completely violated all those warnings and all the common sense in the world since 9-11 changed everything. I usually travel with my wife and so, it didn’t even dawn on me that I shouldn’t wander away, leaving my bag behind. Thinking back, I should have told someone nearby that I was leaving just for a moment. But at the time, no one was sitting next to me.

Now that I have done the unthinkable, I feel all the shame they intended. The security guard tried to emphasize the seriousness of my transgression: “You know, sometimes they’ll pick up deserted bags and make people go through security all over again.”  Considering that amounted to just one person on my way in, that wasn’t really that much of a threat. But I know what he meant. I was a bonehead, a moron, a nincompoop.

I just wanted to pass along my experience, to help you avoid similar embarrassment and bringing a great shame upon your family name.

Hopefully, I’ve been “scared straight” and that will never happen again. I didn’t need to confess my crime against humanity, but I just couldn’t resist trying to help you avoid that feeling I’ve got right now.

My old English teacher, Mr. Ray, would have called me, “A dolt!” I’m going to embrace ‘buffoon. ‘

Sigh.

Tim Hunter

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