You Might Want To Sit Down For This One

, , , , | Right | June 8, 2021

I am with a group of volunteers doing work in Ukraine. We have just landed at Boryspil Airport and gone through customs after a long flight from San Francisco, with two transfers along the way, so we are all tired, and we are trying to make our way to catch a train for the next leg of our journey to the southern coast of the country.

Several of us have packed extra suitcases full of supplies for the organization we are working with. My suitcase with my personal items arrives at the baggage claim, but my extra suitcase does not, so the group leader and I make our way to the baggage office. There is a long line there and we spend about an hour until we are able to speak about the issue to a harried-looking woman at a desk somewhere in the middle of a large room. There is a single chair across the desk from the woman, and I offer it to the group leader so she can sit down, while I, a generally large man, stand. I am not sure if my standing feels imposing to her, or if the woman senses that I am tired and wants to let me rest. Either way, she gestures over to a wall against which are parked a few chairs and says, “Take a seat.”

I walk across to the wall and select a chair as close as I can to the desk, settling down into it to wait for the baggage agent and the group leader to handle things. After a couple of moments, though, the baggage agent waves me back over. I get up and approach the desk. She gestures to the wall again and repeats, “Take a seat.”

Somewhat confused, but trying to follow directions, I head back to the wall and sit down again. The baggage agent again waves me back. As I’m about halfway over, she says, louder, enunciating each word, “Take. A. Seat.”

Suddenly, the light bulb goes on. I go back to the wall and literally take one of the seats there, bringing it over to the desk to sit down next to the group leader, where I somewhat sheepishly go about helping with filing the report for the missing suitcase.

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It’s Apparent That Some People Shouldn’t Be Parents

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: MissShane | May 28, 2021

I work at an airport, and I often deal with kids traveling without parents. This is a paid service called “Unaccompanied Minors,” available to everyone under eighteen but mandatory for kids under the age of twelve who travel alone. The rule is that the parent or guardian or whoever escorts the kid has to stay at the airport until the plane is in the air. This is in case the flight is canceled, because the paid service does not cover anyone staying with the kid until the next flight. The most extreme case would be that there’d be no flight available that day anymore, in which case the kid would have to go home and come back the next day. Obviously, most parents are fine with going to the gate with their kids and staying until the very last minute.

A dad comes to the business counter with his child, which is already a big no-no, as checking in unsupervised kids takes longer than average and the business counter is supposed to be a fast lane for business class and high-tier passengers. The dad shows his own gold card, so I bite back my annoyance and ask the person next to me to check in my queue until I am done. I give the dad all the forms he has to fill, which annoys him. The kid is obviously under ten and seems very sweet. She looks relaxed and I assume she has done this plenty of times.

Dad: *Giving me back the forms* “So, where do I leave her?”

Me: *Confused* “You have to stay at the airport until the plane is in the air.”

Dad: “What? No! I paid for her to be accompanied!”

Me: “Well, yeah, from the gate to the plane and from the plane to arrivals.”

Dad: “I have a meeting in [Town three hours away]. I can’t stay with her!”

Me: “Sir, what if the flight was canceled? We’d have to call you back.”

Dad: “She’d stay here with you, wouldn’t she?”

Me: “That’s not a possibility. Sir, you agree to the terms when you pay.”

Dad: “I didn’t pay for this; her mother did, and she told me I could just leave the kid with you!”

Kid: *Starting to cry* “Daddy, please, come with me!”

Dad: “Don’t start! You like flying, don’t you?”

Kid: “Mom always comes with me.”

Dad: “I don’t care. I don’t have the time! I want to speak to your manager!”

While we wait for my supervisor, we hear an announcement through the loudspeakers about a car in the no-parking zone.

Dad:S***!

He runs away, leaving his daughter at my counter. She starts crying in earnest, and I panic, thinking that the dad is taking this opportunity to bail. My supervisor comes and we close my counter completely (the queue is almost empty) and take the kid aside to talk over our options, hoping that the dad will come back.

Five minutes and no dad later, we try to call him. No answer. Then, we try the mom, whose contact information is also on the papers.

Mom: “I’ll call [Dad]. Is there any way you can take [Kid] to the gate if he doesn’t show up, if I promise to be there in about thirty minutes?”

Supervisor: “There is still plenty of time before the flight leaves, and you can skip the security queue, so we can make a little exception and wait for you at the check-in with [Kid], but we won’t let her go to the gate without a parent.”

Mom: “Okay, thank you. Either [Dad] or I will be there soon.”

A few minutes later, the dad does come back, arguing over the phone with who we assume is the mom. He yanks the daughter by her arm and takes her through security. We feel bad but think that is that.

No.

I go back to my counter to finish the check-in and then get a call from the gate.

Gate Employee: “[Kid]’s father has just left her here with us. We’re very busy and we can’t really look after her. Could you try to catch him and tell him to come back?

I don’t manage to spot him.

Supervisor: “Go sit with the kid while I call her mom again.”

My shift is about to end so I don’t have to hurry anywhere except home, and I agree to work a little overtime, sitting with the teary-eyed child. While my supervisor calls the mom, the shift manager calls the airline.

Shift Manager: “Can we allow a child onto the flight if there is no parent present when the flight leaves?”

We are a ground handling company and do not directly work for any airline.

Airline Employee: “No. That is not allowed.”

Fortunately, the mom then arrives. The kid and I go back to check-in, and the mom signs new forms and escorts the kid through security again. The kid makes the flight fine and it leaves on time. The mom is so embarrassed and upset about the whole incident.

Mom: “Thank you so much for all your help. This is the first and last time [Dad] will ever escort [Kid].”

I had to stay a while longer to write an incident report, and I went home absolutely exhausted.

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Cracking The (Brief)case!

, , , , , , , | Legal | May 25, 2021

My father used to work for a company that made things like diapers and other such products. As such, they worked with what is known as super-absorbent. This is the stuff that actually absorbs and holds in the liquid. For anyone who has never seen super-absorbent in its raw form, it is basically a white granular powder, kind of like sugar.

One time, well before the increased security from 9/11, my dad’s boss was flying to a business conference. In his suitcase, he had several samples of super-absorbent to show. Unfortunately, while in the terminal, his suitcase was stolen.

If you have ever played with super-absorbent, or even seen what happens to a diaper in a pool, you’ll know that when it comes into contact with liquid: it turns into a gel and expands. It expands quite a bit, actually. So, if it were inside a confined space when that happened, like, say, inside someone’s sinus cavity…

The boss was able to retrieve his briefcase later from the police at the nearby hospital. He never did get his super-absorbent samples back, though.


This story is part of our Best Of May 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of May 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of May 2021 roundup!

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The Situation Is Very Fluid

, , , | Right | May 17, 2021

This was a few years back but well after 9/11 and the extra measures put in place after the events. I was waiting in line for the security check and in front of me was a travel group, about thirty individuals, mostly elderly people. They were from a part of the country generally joked about as being slow. Now, it is wrong to treat people according to stereotypes, but sometimes… they just can’t help confirming it.

I belatedly realized I had a liquid lip gloss on me and started to doubt whether it would be considered a liquid or not. I decided to treat it as a liquid and put it separate from the rest of my luggage in a clear plastic bag as per regulations.

An older lady from the group asked me what I was doing and I explained my predicament.

Lady: “Oh, I have a bottle of water with me!”

Me: “You should put it in a separate bag, too. And they might confiscate it for being too much liquid.”

That was all duly indicated with large signs. She got a stubborn expression on her face.

Lady: “They’d better not confiscate my water! I need it in case I get thirsty! I also have my good potato knife with me, in case I have to skin an apple on the plane.”

I held my peace this time and let security do their job.

My remark about the liquid travelled through the group, but they all decided defiantly to hold onto their liquids. I kid you not, each and every member of the group had at least one item confiscated, being it liquids or sharp objects, and most of them wouldn’t give in without a fight. Apart from that, the majority had to be patted down because the metal detector gave an alarm.

I’m still unsure if my lip gloss was considered a liquid but I was the first to walk through without any confiscation and alarm.

A member of the security, frantically trying to keep an overview and prevent anyone giving him the slip, tried to stop me and guide me to the members of the group waiting to be patted down as his colleague told him I could go. I just smiled as he looked a bit dazed and surprised as well as a bit relieved.

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Sadly, This Is Very Regular

, , , , | Right | May 6, 2021

I’m working at an airport café.

Me: “We have Swiss, American, and pepper jack cheese. Which would you like?”

Customers: “Oh, just regular.”

Me: “All right, and how would you like your eggs?”

Customers: “Just regular eggs is fine.”

Me: “All right, and that comes with toast. Would you like wheat or white?”

Customer: “What’s wheat or white? Just regular toast is fine.”

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