Before I retired, I was a dialysis nurse at the VA and belonged to a professional group known as the ANNA which stood for the American Nephrology Nurses Association. The ANNA held local, regional and national meetings. A neighbor of mine, Marianne, was a pediatric nephrology nurse at the Albany Medical Center and also belonged to the ANNA. We decided to travel to meetings together. Our air flights became increasingly questionable until she no longer would travel with me.

Once, on our way home from New Orleans, we had time to kill on a Sunday morning before our flight left, so we decided to go to a nearby mall. The mall was closed, but docked nearby was a gambling boat. Marianne loved to play the slots so she said “Let’s get on.” We were having a wonderful time, not winning much but enjoying being on the great Mississippi River when the boat’s whistle blew. We wondered what that was about but figured it was something to do with the time or another boat approaching. Shortly thereafter, the boat started to move. Apparently it was going out into the river for a cruise. If we went with it, we would miss our flight. We ran to the gang plank and jumped to the dock over an increasing amount of the river. It is a wonder one of us didn’t fall in. I can’t swim, but the alternative was to tell our husbands that we missed our flight because we were gambling. Death by drowning versus death by husband. No question, we had to make our flight.
There was also the time we were waiting to board a plane and airport security was frisking about every third passenger. Mariann said she hoped they did not pick her. They did and I couldn’t stop laughing. If looks could kill, I would not have boarded that plan alive.

Another time, Marianne and I were on our way to San Antonio for an ANNA meeting. On the way to the airport, I realized that I did not have my driver’s license for identification. The airline worker asked my friend if she would vouch for me. She said yes. All was well.

On the way home, we had a stop in Atlanta. Going through security, I was asked “Did anyone give you an unidentified package to take on board with you?” I said to the woman “Why don’t you just say ‘Did anyone give you a bomb?’” At that point, sirens went off, gates came crashing down, guards with ferocious looking German Shepherds came rushing in and surrounded me and my friend. Marianne exclaimed “Oh, Jesus Christ.” I was then asked to show my ID. She then exclaimed “Oh, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I lied and told them my wallet was stolen and I did not have any ID on me. Marianne did step up to the plate and said she would vouch for me. She said I was not a terrorist and would not know how to make an explosive device. I think she thought it best not to use that other word. Then she added, “She is a government employee. Can you call someone and check on her?” At that point, I said “Oh, mother of God” as I envisioned my government job and my retirement go down the proverbial drain. Being dialysis nurses, we often dealt with situations regarding fluids and drains. They said they would have to x-ray my luggage. Incredulously and stupidly, I asked “You mean to tell me you don’t x-ray everyone’s luggage?” They did x-ray my luggage and I was deemed safe and we proceeded to board. While waiting to fly, we watched the baggage handlers try to load a casket on to the plane. It did not fit. They then proceeded to unload the whole luggage compartment and reload the casket and the luggage. Eventually we took off but because of my “open mouth and insert foot” and casket incidents, the flight was delayed a couple of hours. The other passengers were not happy. Marianne has not travelled with me since.

Luckily, we remain friends.

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