The First Lady of Airport Acting

My daughters performing their own commedia dell’arte at O’Hare.

I’m not a good actor. I’m one of the worst you’ll ever meet. I easily break character and, because I get nervous, my go-to “emotion” is always anger, no matter how cheerfully written the role is. I’m just really bad at acting.

Except when it comes to the airport. That’s my time to shine. I will do anything, including acting, not to pay to park at O’Hare.

Drop-offs are a breeze and require minimal acting. Just drive to Departures, smooch and get going. The most acting I’ve ever had to do at a drop-off is act like I don’t mind waiting for pokey pedestrians to get out of my way.

Move, people!

Pick-ups, on the other hand, require a little more thought.

I pick Jesse up at a Departure door that is right up the stairs from his baggage claim. I am supposed to park and pick him up at Arrivals, but our little system saves us time and money.

Unfortunately, even if the flight is “on time” sometimes there are delays. He’ll have to stay in the plane for an extra half hour or the baggage is delayed or whatever. That’s when I become The First Lady of Airport Acting.

I hit my hazards and pop the trunk. I get out of the car v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. I circle my vehicle, stopping frequently to look up at the heavens. I “become” The Dust Bowl Farmer Who Longs for Rain. He takes big sniffs in all directions and when he smells something he can’t quite identify, he gets back in the car.

That mysterious “scent” is airport security. He doesn’t know what or who they are. All he knows is something is out there and it’s heading his way. This is traditionally when the old farmer disappears and Lorna Luggage emerges.

Lorna’s got a good heart, but is very disorganized and can’t remember if she packed the proper luggage. The role of Lorna Luggage requires gesticulating the following nonverbal subtext.

Oh my gosh! Don’t tell me I forgot my luggage?! Let me check over here again. Maybe it’s under the spare tire. Nope. Time to look in the middle row. Oh my goodness, did I put my luggage in the front passenger seat? Maybe it’s on top of the car? Did I drop it? Hold on. Did it somehow get wedged underneath the van?

About the time Lorna Luggage realizes she did in fact forget her luggage, airport security starts approaching.

“Get going! Keep moving!” they’ll shout at me, whistling and gesticulating aggressively.

First of all, nobody out-gesticulates the First Lady of Airport Acting! Normally, I find these folks intimidating, but not when I’m in character or about to morph into The Lady Who Is Driving Her Husband’s Car for the First Time.

This delicate character is respectful of airport authority, but doesn’t necessarily know how to operate the windshield wipers, or the gears, or the steering wheel. She embarrasses easily which only stalls her ability to figure out how to get her car out of park. She’s polite, though. She’ll give a wave to the authorities and shout, “So sorry! Just trying to figure this out.”

Unfortunately, the airport authorities are completely uncharmed by my characters. That’s usually about the time I see one of them pull out their citation book which is precisely when I move the car ahead at least two feet and break out The Lady Who Is Afraid to Merge into Traffic.

This lady is insecure about driving. Her windshield wipers are still going a million miles an hour regardless of how dry it is. She rolls down her window and sticks her head out and tries with all her might to figure out when to safely pull into that dreadful traffic. Eventually she figures it out, merges and drives out of the airport authority’s sightline. And that’s when we meet The Lady Who Didn’t Shut One of the Doors all the Way.

Pilgrim Fern inspecting every nook and cranny of the car.

This character has a little more pep in her step. She gets out of the car and checks every single door, plus the hood and the trunk and makes sure they are shut tight. And that’s when Jesse finally arrives with his luggage and gets in the car and we drive home.

Phew! Jesse’s in the car and we didn’t have to pay to park.

Sometimes my daughters come with me and break out their own skills. Fern will put on a pilgrim hat and give the car a very thorough inspection; it doesn’t matter that it’s February. Jocelyn has been known to pull out our stash of emergency bungee cords and start counting them before gingerly placing them back inside the car. She’ll also brace and shake all of the seats to make sure they’re safely bolted to the car. Whatever it takes!

I realize there are some of you who will not appreciate my acting antics or that I’m teaching my children to buck the system. I don’t blame you. However, if you’re going to continue reading this blog, you need to know what kind of person I am. You deserve the truth.

Speaking of this blog, thank you for reading! The prompts are gone, but I’m still here and I am so glad you are, too. See you tomorrow. -Connie

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