Ragtag Daily Prompt: Curious
Today’s RDP defined my day last week (was it only last week?) when I flew from Boston, MA to Washington DC to visit my kids and their families…including one adorable grandson (well, my kids are adorable too…but you know). I had not entered an airport or stepped on a plane since February 2020. Fourteen months ago. I had not been in a crowd of people of any size since then either. I don’t have to tell any of you why. But now I am fully vaccinated and as protected as I’m going to be, so it was time to take that leap.
As a lifelong curious person, I am known for asking questions – lots of questions – but this time there was nobody to answer them ahead of time as I planned this trip (I am also a rabid planner).
What would it be like at the airport during a pandemic? Would people cooperate and wear masks? Could I check in at the kiosks? What would change about going through security? Would it be crowded on the plane? What if…
First positive sign: the kiosks were working (good news since my home printer was not). Checking in with security meant inserting my driver’s license into a machine where it disappeared for several seconds and then spit back out. The masked agent behind the plexiglass looked straight at me…would you pull down your mask please? The big reveal lasted only a few seconds, but felt bizarrely like I was being asked an intimate question.
My carryon and I made it through the screening process without incident. All the while I am breathing through a N95 super mask with rubber bands around my head trying not to hyperventilate. Which I had just pulled down for the agent. I wondered…what if?
As I walked to the gate I began to notice changes…
Except for passengers waiting at one gate, there was hardly anybody there. Most restaurants were closed. Coffee kiosks were gone. The bar was closed. This was mid afternoon.
So far it looked similar to the outside world as we know it now. It also sounded similar…muffled…as gate agents gave directions through masks into microphones. The directions for boarding were posted on the information screen as well. Perhaps that was why.
The flight was only about half full…allowing distancing…sort of. Drinks and snacks were handed out. Masks came off to eat and drink. That…I thought to myself…is one good reason why you wait to fly until you’re vaccinated. And then – as a friend of mine once said many years ago – you give it to God or whatever higher being you believe in – at times like these.
The plane arrived in DC on time. I knew my daughter would be arriving soon to pick me up. I figured I had a few minutes to linger in the gate area before leaving to find her in the line of cars outside the terminal.
I noticed how, in DC, passengers apparently don’t need roped off seats.
My daughter would usually text almost there! when she was about to arrive. When I hadn’t heard from her after a few minutes, I decided to make my way out past security anyway. By then most passengers from my flight had left. As I carefully rolled my suitcase past various security guards – paying close attention to where I was walking – a random thought hit me…I wonder if people still come inside to meet passengers anymore...
Which is why clueless me didn’t notice this masked little blonde almost 5 year old until he came close to alarming the security guard…
I will wonder no more…people still DO meet passengers inside the airport. Three of my favorite people in the world were there to surprise me. Daughter. Son. Grandson. I hadn’t hugged them since last August. Far too long.
Four days later I flew home and it was much the same experience. I am, however, already looking forward to returning in June to meet my newborn granddaughter.
I am very curious about her. ❤️