Being Ballers at LAX (on our Way to Asia)

Denver International Airport is a very well-lit place.

Denver International Airport is a very well-lit place.

November 20, 2015; Los Angeles International Airport

Relentless fluorescent lighting, a hard floor and steady draft from the window pane did not make for a good night’s sleep at Denver International Airport. Basically, I was getting too old to sleep in transportation hubs voluntarily.

But since my flight to Los Angeles was at 5:30 a.m. and I had to teach my Public Speaking class the night before, driving straight to DIA, which is three hours from my hometown, seemed like a logical plan.

making goofy faces at LAXGetting ready to go

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At any rate, I had no trouble making my flight to LAX and meeting my sister, Suzanne, who arrived around the same time, 7:30 in the morning. We were about to embark on a Japanese Journey that we’d been planning for nine months.

“To understand Japanese….

Actually, we’d really been thinking about it since the miniseries, Shogun, based on James Clavell’s novel, aired in the 1980s. Watching Shogun, Suz and I became obsessed with Japan and, in particular, Lady Mariko, the beautiful Japanese translator (played by Yoko Shimada) for English captain and trader John Blackthorne or “Anjin San,” (played by Richard Chamberlain.)

Screenshot from James Clavell's "Shogun." Anjin San and Lady Mariko.

Screenshot from James Clavell’s “Shogun.” Anjin San and Lady Mariko.

Word-for-word quotes from Lady Mariko flew from our mouths all around our house. “It is not sad, Anjin San; it is just one of life’s most important rules”; “In Japan, Anjin San, there are only Japanese ways”; “Anjin San, to understand Japanese, you have to think Japanese.” We pretty much wanted to be Japanese.

Consequently, this trip was a long time in the making, and Suz and I were just a tad bit excited. We killed time at LAX by plugging in and visiting Starbucks. Apparently, we killed a bit too much time. As we made our way to Singapore Airlines ticketing, an army of about 80 Japanese teenage school girls in matching uniforms flowed into line right before us.

The army of Japanese school girls scoots into line before we do.

The army of Japanese school girls scoots into line before we do.

A bearded man in an ill-fitting sportscoat, who appeared behind us said, “Don’t worry. The Japanese are excellent sleepers. I know. I live in Japan.” That statement, albeit completely random, was troubling on a few levels. How did he know that the Japanese, especially young school girls, slept well?

Not even knowing how to react, Suz and I turned away from the man and focused instead on the line. Soon, Vicki, a Singapore Airlines representative with bright fucshia lipstick, spied us and approached. Yes! Surely we were going to be moved to the front of the line.

“Hello, you are both traveling together?” Vicki asked of Suz and me as we nodded in unison.

“We are overbooked on this flight to Tokyo and we’re wondering if you would be willing to give up your seats.” She looked back and forth between us, directly reading Suz then me to see who was the weakest link, or perhaps, who was the toughest obstacle.

Sensing our reluctance, Vicki smiled widely and went in for the jugular.  “We will pay you $1,300 to give up your seats.”

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Travel Oops: Packing Weapons of Mass Distraction

449px-SA_police_force

© Wikimedia Commons

Phoenix, Arizona, USA. 2011.

In a bulky badass stride, a muscular police officer with a military precision haircut approaches the security scene at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. He wears a flak jacket while pepper spray, handcuffs and extra clips adorn his gun belt. Clearly, this guy is packing heat.

Moments earlier, a group of TSA agents had clustered around a confiscated item. Redirecting everybody but us, one agent shut down an entire row of security and called in the cop.

Travelers shoot withering looks our way while my husband Kurt and I, along with our kids Eddie and Kasey, stand at the end of the conveyor belt. Returning from Mexico, we need to make our connecting flight to Denver.

Although no one actually informs us, Kurt and I know exactly what is wrong. I look over at Kurt, who rolls his eyes. Then our six-year-old son Eddie asks the all-important question:

“Am I going to get my marshmallow gun back?”

© Stephanie Glaser

Eddie (left) and his friends armed with their marshmallow guns. © Stephanie Glaser

Months earlier, Kurt had made Eddie a marshmallow gun out of PVC piping after he had seen one at a carnival. You can actually fire marshmallow “bullets” from the toy by blowing them through any of the pipes’ openings. Like a veteran SWAT team member, Eddie assembles the entire thing, which sort of resembles a white sniper gun, in about 29 seconds.

So now we wait at the Phoenix Airport for the marshmallow gun to either be cleared or confiscated for good. Apparently, due to the Transportation Security Administration’s protocol, a professional must inspect the contraband — especially when it’s material that people use to make bombs.

“I don’t know, Bud.” Kurt answers.

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Signs of the Times: Wildlife? Really?

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser

Pikes Peak Parking Lot, Denver International Airport, United States. Often people think of Colorado as an idyllic setting  for wildlife. However, usually an airport parking lot is not part of the wildlife landscape. I guess you never know — some bunny or bird of prey with longing in their eyes may approach, prompting you to give them some “drive-thru” McDonald’s  morsels.

© Stephanie Glaser

Cars parked in the Pikes Peak parking lot © Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser

Driving on plenty of wildlife friendly asphalt. © Stephanie Glaser

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