I had an exciting experience at the airport that I've been awaiting for years.
I saw something, and then I said something.
I've done that before, but it wasn't exactly the same. It usually involved seeing the price of a sandwich and saying something that is unprintable. In this case, I saw an unattended suitcase. I alerted the authorities and walked away feeling as if I should get a citation for my participation in Orange Level Threat Situation, or whatever the code was for that day. Maybe Burnt Umber Level.
It's possible I wouldn't have seen it if I hadn't had so much time to kill at the gate. I was early. I am always early because when it comes to the airport, I am a Type 1.
A T1 is a sensible, rational person who gets to the airport with plenty of time to spare. "Plenty" is a subjective term, of course, so let's say at least two hours before the flight. If it's an international flight, a T1 considers getting to the airport a day early.
In short, a T1 never misses a flight.
A Type 2, a careless wastrel with no sense of how things could ever go wrong, gets to the airport minutes before the plane closes its doors.
T2s also never miss a flight, which drives T1s mad with the sheer injustice of it all.
I realize that I said T1s get to the airport two hours before the flight. That might make other T1s shift a bit with discomfort.
"Two hours? That's cutting it a bit close, don't you think? What if traffic's bad? What if the stoplight at the end of your street is on the fritz and has one of those cycles where it doesn't go green for, like, five minutes? That could throw everything off!"
Fortunately, I don't have to reply to this comment because the very thought of being late could make a T1 faint. He'll come to in time for his flight, however.
Even if you get to the airport three hours early, there are still some things you have to do before you can relax.
Let's say you have to check a bag. This is a source of anxiety for the T1, who packed the bag two days ago and spent yesterday arranging the carry-on bag of liquids by color and bottle shape.
T2s usually start packing at the point when T1s are calling an Uber. They never weigh their luggage, but it's rarely overweight — to the utter fury of the T1s, who not only have a bag scale, but set themselves a reminder to check the scale's battery a week before the flight.
Still, bag checking is hard on T1s' blood pressure because there might be a line. Once that nightmare is over, it's time to check the security line. The T2s think it'll be fine, being a wine-glass-half-full type. The T1s, who consume coffee and fingernails rather than wine, expect the line will be 32 miles long. If it has more than four rows, the T1 assumes he'll never make it through on time and starts looking for alternative flights.
I think it goes without saying that T1s always marry T2s and vice versa, right?
Anyway, back to the unattended bag.
I went to California last week for an event, by myself. Had plenty of time. Congratulated myself on my flawless TSA performance — electronics out and placed in a bin, shoes in another bin, bags facing the right way, no gum wrapper in my pocket to make the body scanner give me a failing grade and, of course, I'd remembered to wash all the fertilizer residue off my hands. Didn't have to take my belt off because I'd never put it on.
When my possessions clattered out of the magic detection box, I stowed the electronics, reshod, got the suitcase and backpack, then went off to the chairs to tie my shoes. If you tie your shoes in the line it holds everything up. T1s like me know these things.
Later at the coffee shop I wondered how much time I had until the flight, so I checked my watch ... and stared at my bare wrist.
I had forgotten my watch.
It is a fancy "smart" watch, which is more than can be said for its owner, so it could be located by an app on my phone. The phone said it was still in the TSA area. A very nice fellow assisted me, but he could not find it in the line I'd gone through.
"Walk away," he said, "and see if the watch goes with you or stays here." Good idea. I walked four gates away, looking at my app; the watch did not move. Walked back to the gate; the TSA agent was visibly deflated by seeing me again. Can't blame him.
Eventually two other agents became involved, walking around the area listening for the phone's "Find me!" sound among the din.
One of the agents finally heard it.
"It was in a bin in the other line, not the one you said you took," she said.
"I know what happened," I speculated. "I took out my laptop and tablet, and then I was putting on my shoes, and the bin got knocked down by someone else's, and they put the bin back in the pile."
"You just go on telling yourself that," she smiled.
I apologized for being such an idiot — "Really, I'm a T1, I'm good at this!" — and she said it wasn't the first time it had happened. It wasn't even the first time it had happened that morning.
Which is why I wasn't surprised that someone forgot they had a suitcase. How could that happen? Now I know that there's something about airports that scrambles the brain for some people.
Or so I've heard! Wouldn't know, myself. I'm a T1. I'm good at this.
Yes, I did just go on telling myself that.