July 22, 2002
The Battle of the Baggage Belt
...How to have a fight with the checkin baggage belt and lose with the style and grace of a Ticket Agent
I’m baaack, albeit somewhat restricted (as I’ve just gotten the splints and casts
off my arms and the pressure bandages removed from my legs.)
What???? The Nimble, Gazelle-like Inferno? What happened?
...You may ask… yes... yes, indeed you may…
For those of you who have experienced the thrashings and grindings of bone that could come from such an encounter …well, I won’t bore you, just skip ahead to the next Tall Tale …
However, (there’s always a however…isn't there?) for those of you who haven’t….
And I hope you never do … I bid you read on.
Many of you know me as "Inferno", that wacky Adventurer who just loves First Person Point & Click Adventures, throws a fair “Virtual Pool Party” complete with Margaritas and Dancing Green Lampshades, adores the music from Nightmare Ned and her beloved Braveheart (sigh!). Some of you also know me as a “Nuevo-XP Tweaker” who maintains a homepage filled with Setup-Walkthroughs for Legacy Games to play on Windows XP within this very site.
As many of you are aware, about 3 weeks or so ago I bid my virtual gaming friends goodbye as well as my dearest Braveheart (sigh!) and off to Oregon I went to do some Relief Duty for the Red Baron. I am an International Ticket Agent. This is what I do in the real world. Now, anyone who knows anyone who travels or is acquainted with the furiously stressful goings on of the day to day tribulations associated with working at an airport, also knows how hyper most Ticket Agents are.
We move at the speed of light; and speak about as fast. We can calculate sums, mileage and percentages in our heads without breaking a sweat. We're famous for the amazing ability to pull availability seemingly out of our… well, let’s just say that we’re really good at finding seats on our flights especially when there are no seats to find. We can fix the ticket printer, find a wheelchair, and have one eye always out for our national security with nary a hair out of place…
We can dance blithely back and forth behind the harried Checkin Agents during “High Checkin” and never falter.
...as long as we keep far enough away from them and do our moving across the baggage belt...
Spotting the odd irate or disgruntled passenger is no contest for us and furthermore, disarming him or her (as the case may be) is as easy as flashing our award winning smiles with a Pepsodent-like brilliance.
We can locate your lost luggage (…shudder) even though that is not our area of expertise and waive change fees and excess baggage charges as besuits our humor (…and the Station Manager isn’t looking…heeheehee) Yes, yes… we are our company’s “princesses” of the airport no matter who the airline is… The “Golden Gaggle” as it were, for we are the ones who will whisper into those same managers’ ears to either “upgrade” you or seat you next to the toilet as you wing your way off to parts unknown.
(Sorry about the length, but it’s “plot exposition”…and it has to go somewhere.)
It was my third day in Portland, we were just at the beginning of our crunch time; also known in the business as “High Checkin”. Being the relief Ticket Agent, I was the only "prin.." er, I mean the only Ticket Agent on duty and had a line out the door. Now, to get to and from the office you have to walk in between the Checkin Agents and the Baggage Belt. Normally, Ticket Agents have a habit of walking on the baggage belt. …But only when the belt is running in the same direction as the Ticket Agent...
Anyway, I had to run back to the office to get some change for a passenger who was having his ticket reissued. Being the consummate T.A. that I am, of course; I was indeed running. I got to the safe, swiftly opened the combination (thank The Maker, for those combination locks on those lockers and the four years of opening them in between classes at Sacred Heart Academy!), grabbed the change, relocked the safe with a flick of my wrist. I then pirouetted over to the ticket printer hit the button and pulled the ticket. Swiped a fancy Ticket Jacket from the bin and I was off in a flash to my passenger!
Well, as I was rounding the entryway of the office, I was faced with the choice of either trying to maneuver through the sea of Checkin Agents and luggage or take the easy and (of course) more flamboyant way as suits my station as a "Princess" ~~ uh, oops ~~ I meant Ticket Agent via The Baggage Belt of arriving at the ticket counter.
This, mind you is a total distance of about 15ft.
In a split second I decided that I didn’t want to appear too “flashy” to my brand new colleagues and opted to move as quickly as I could between them and the accursed baggage belt instead of riding on it. Ha! What a mistake! As started my path, one of the Checkin Agents, (there are 9 of them and then the Ticket Counter) who we’ll refer to as "Checkin Agent #2" decided that this point in time held a really prudent opportunity to lean her foot back and stretch.
Talk about really poor timing!
So of course, as I was approaching behind her at exactly the same instant, I managed to catch her foot with mine and naturally, since I was running full tilt ~
I told you we move at the speed of light...
Somehow I became airborne.
Now this feat was quite dangerous as I was airborne without a plane!!! Youch!
I came down on my right foot (still on the floor, mind you) which landed in a waste paper basket (I broke that sucker in half as well as my foot) and somehow managed to flip over 3 pieces of luggage on the moving bag belt which further propelled me forward through the air on my incredibly wild adventure.
Keep in mind, I have no memory of this … Checkin Agent #3 told me all of this later. Apparently, he saw the beginning of this “Circus Act” unfold an had the foresight to shutdown the Bag Belt just in time to watch me finally land on it exactly one foot before the security door, just behind the Ticket Counter. I remember hearing that door slam shut with a resounding crunch … (that’s the small opening where your luggage actually disappears down a 20ft chute to the Bag Room below), not to mention a few screaming and agitated First Class passengers who were witnessing this hysterical floorshow.
It was most impressive! No, no, no... I mean to say that I truly made a terrific impression
….of my chin into the metal siding of the Bag Belt!!!
Apparently I had landed face down and chin first on the Baggage Belt right behind the Ticket Counter and at the feet of my managers. This was a span of 10ft.
~Who was it that said, “Always lead with your chin”?~
I recall later being told that I never screamed or cried out in pain, this never surprised me as Ticket Agents have far too much control and class for such nonsense, you know... but was heard by my managers to comment quite clearly just before I landed:
"Uh boy! This is gonna hurt...”
And then nothing, just a sort of “floaty” feeling.
I was told later, that after they pulled me off the Belt and sat me down on the floor, I looked up at them, dumbfounded. But you see, (I vaguely remember this part)…I wasn’t dumbfounded at all! They just weren’t speaking English to me anymore… it was some other language …a language I had never heard of… and it sounded as though they were speaking to me underwater…but that wasn’t possible …we were in an airport for Christ’s sake! No water around for miles.
As they got me to my feet, all the passengers just looked at me with their mouth hanging open, especially the First Class passenger who was waiting for me at the Ticket Counter. The last thing I remember was flashing my best Pepsodent-brilliant albeit bloody smile at him and saying,
“Here’s your ticket and change, sir.”
You see Ticket Agents never let go of money in any form easily. I then gazed at my manager with very glassy eyes and said,
“I don’t feel very well... I think I’ve got some owuies.”
Which was met with thunderous applause from the rest of the passengers as my colleagues carried me back to the office.
The extent of the injuries?
Well, I broke a bone in my foot and sprained both wrists. I have deep tissue damage on my left thigh ...along with an incredible imprint of a luggage lock! A bruised rotor cup in my right shoulder and some torn ligaments in my jaw…and my chin? Well…for about a week …let’s just say I could double for Jay Leno’s twin sister!
…So what did I miss while I was gone?