Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A good travel experience at BWI

I am now back in New Hampshire, one of fifty states where there is no longer a president-elect but there is a black president - unbelievable.

I will make multiple posts with pictures, anecdotes, and even home videos of the inauguration in the next couple days, probably starting tonight. For now, I just want to pass along a huge thank you to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) airport. You guys are AMAZING. The security line this morning was one of the longest I’d ever seen, certainly for an airport of that size. Yet, it moved along so quickly, it barely took more time than a regular line. Every agent I saw or dealt with was professional and courteous. The bureaucrats in charge of the TSA come up with some absolutely inept policies, but the men and women on the ground manage to rise above that. I tip my hat to them today in appreciation for their service.

After passing through security, I went to the BWI Silver Diner, a restaurant with which I am becoming all too familiar. (Why they were planning Christmas music today, I will never know.) An older black gentleman sat down next to me at the bar, and we watched the reply of Obama’s speech on C-SPAN. I turned to him and asked, “Did you ever think you would see the day?” He was silent for a moment, then said no. We were both on the Mall yesterday, and compared our experiences – he showed me his purple ticket and various black-tie gala programs, and I talked about the nightmare Metro crowds he had managed to avoid.

Then he said, bringing to mind the 105-year-old black woman who sat on the Mall, “We’ve come a long way since I was turned away from restaurants. When I was in the Air Force in the sixties, they stationed me in Texas. The restaurants wouldn’t even serve me. So to see a man go through the front door of the White House… It’s very special.”

I asked him what he does for a living, and he said he has his own carbon-capture business in the Los Angeles area. After some more discussion, I said I found it ironic: I’m from Texas, the state that wouldn’t serve him, and yet decades later, here he is working to save my planet. We shook hands and I went to board my plane.

4 comments:

Jordan said...

That is rather touching. I'm grateful you had the courage to ask a complete stranger such a personal question.

And why don't you use Dulles again?

James said...

I think you are "getting it" Nathan. You'll never really understand, but you are getting it.

Thank you for sharing that story. I have friends I wish could have lived to see Mr. Obama and family walk in to the White House via the front door and go UPSTAIRS, not backstairs.

Urlaub Allgäu said...

105 year old black lady, i shocked,really she has a very long life.
Conil de la Frontera

Nathan Empsall said...

Jordan - whoops, almost forgot to respond to this one. Southwest doesn't fly from Manchester, NH to Dulles, just to BWI. And if I had the choice between the two, I'd probably still take BWI since it has the Marc train commute to Union Station. Reagan, on the other hand, has its own Metro station (which Dulles should by 2015), but again, no Manchester (or Spokane) to Dulles SWA flight.