It was 9:50 a.m. three days before Christmas 2010 at the Reno / Tahoe International Airport. I stood in line to begin the laborious process to obtain my boarding pass, and then engage in my first contact with Airport Security. There were forty to fifty passengers ahead of me and about the same number behind. We were all in that familiar maze of zig-zag belts of rope-fabric mounted on waist high poles. How else could they, whoever “they” are, crowd a hundred passengers with all their luggage in a fifty by seventy-five foot rectangular space for hours on end without serious thought of a revolt. This was the area where you were to arrive at least ninety minutes before your scheduled departure in order to process like cattle from this pen to the final objective of the boarding gate and the airplane.
We had waited about half an hour, and the two ticket agents on duty at the airline counter only processed two people during that time. Even the self-check kiosks were out of order. About five rows behind me a couple with a baby in their arms alternately stood, crouched or sat uncomfortably on a large pile of luggage and strollers. They also had a three-year-old little girl whose name we would soon find out was Angie.
Angie was a real cutie dressed in a pinafore type outfit, a tailored coat, long wool stockings, and tightly clutched her dolly in her left arm. She also sported a blond pony-tail, which seemed long for her age. As we all waited, Angie started to exhibit slightly less patience than the rest of us at not seeing the line move one bit in the last thirty minutes. I was amused by this little girl who had far more questions than her Daddy had answers on about our mutual dilemma. How would we ever board this plane if nobody moved forward, I pondered.
Angie made a couple failed attempts to get away from her dad so she could investigate a little on her own. Dad always caught her after a few errant steps.
“Why can’t we just go around those people and talk to the lady?” she pointed past the people in front of her to the closest ticket agent. Daddy did not have a satisfactory answer for her, and so Angie could not contain her frustrations any longer. She darted under the rope barriers, and headed straight for the front.
“ANGELEEEEEENA!” her mother shouted desperately. “You get back here right now!” Angie was on a mission. Dad tried to shush Mom before he clamored after Angie. “She’ll be okay! I’ll get her,” he said already in motion as he nearly tripped over some luggage.
A hush fell over the group of us who stood in line. The entire event appeared to occur in slow motion. The ticket agent peered around her pedestal at the commotion. All eyes were on Angie and her next move. With her left hand holding her dolly, she placed it with Dolly onto her left hip, and with a flip of her blond pony tail, she made a slow dramatic wave with her right arm. Simultaneously, she faced the agent, and said in a voice loud enough to be heard, and with just the right balance between pleading and impatience, “I Very Would Like To Get On This Plane!”
The passengers all nodded their approval. Some laughed, most just smiled, and a couple of them clapped. “Okay! I’ll hurry sweetheart!” By now, Dad had little Angie in tow back to a mortified Mom, and the agent disappeared into the room behind the ticket counter. Almost as if by magic two more agents appeared shortly thereafter. They must have been tied up on a long coffee break! The line started moving quickly to everyone’s joy.
A voice came over the speaker, “Any passengers traveling with small children who need additional assistance, please come to a special ticketing area to the side.” Another agent appeared from the back to manage that pedestal.
Within a mere 10 to 15 minutes they had ticketed and cleared all of us, and sent us on our merry ways down the hall, up the escalators, and to more delights at the security and screening area. It did not take long there, and we were all on our our quarter-mile walk to the boarding gates.
As I walked down the concourse toward our gate, I chuckled at a humorous thought. My high-school English teacher would have taken her big red pencil, and marked through Angie’s sentence if it were on paper, and written next to it “Incomplete sentence, where’s the adjective? The modifier?” Well, she never met the three foot tall Angie, our effective spokeswoman who single-handedly changed in an instant the local operating procedures of a multi-billion dollar corporation. If you have Angie, you don’t need another modifier!
We boarded the plane, and flew to Dallas. Angie and family were bound for a different city on another plane after that. While we flew to meet our families for the holidays, I mused to myself about the very special gift Angie gave to all of us who were present. She risked her own well-being to the benefit of us all, even in the face of discipline from her parents.
The dynamics of her dramatic request, punctuated by a proper amount of indignation to make it effective, with the hands on the hip, the flip of the cute pony tail, and her bigger than life voice, “I VERY WOULD LIKE TO GET ON THIS PLANE!” were on the minds of at least a hundred happy passengers.
I smiled as I exited the airport, and said “Angie, you brightened my whole Holiday Season! Best Wishes to you and your beautiful family, wherever you are!”