My eighty-five year old mother resides north of Boston in the same town in which she was born. She has many children, many more grand-children and so many great grand-children that frankly, I lost count. People love my mother, they always have. And what’s not to love? She’s quick to smile, her eyes are bright and she has a typical New England sense of humor. She’s also little — five-foot-nothing.
She recently flew to San Antonio to visit relatives. All of my siblings knew the travel arrangements — my sister would escort her on the flight south but my mother would fly back to Boston alone.
After the trip, I called her from my home in Los Angeles to get an update. Our conversations are usually wonderfully playful, vibrant and lively, if not rather loud because she’s hard of hearing. This conversation was no different. “So, Mumsy, my little jet-setter, how was the solo flight back from the confederate state?” I asked her brightly.
“Oh, you won’t believe this. It was horrible!” she said.
“Oh no! What happened?”
After a brief silence she said bleakly, “Are you sitting down?”
Something bad had happened. I sat down with my hand on my chest and braced myself for terrible news rather than the usual light-hearted conversations we were famous for. “Tell me,” I said softly because my throat was closing up a little.
The volume of her voice rebounded with, “My plane was hijacked!”
Needless to say, I was shocked. “No way!”
“Oh yes! Hijacked by the TSA!”
“Are you kidding?!”
“I am not! Mid-flight, the TSA turned our plane around! We were detained for hours. They even frisked me! Can you imagine?”
“Unbelievable! What were they looking for?”
“That’s just it! No one knew until it was all over. They finally told us they were after drugs and then they released everyone — except for me! For some reason they still weren’t convinced that I wasn’t a drug dealer or a mule, so they kept me in protective custody with an armed guard for the entire day! I couldn’t go anywhere or talk to anyone! It was just awful!”
“Oh my God! I’m sorry you had to go through all that. But you’re home now and everything is okay, right?”
“Yes, I’m fine.” And I could tell by her voice that she really was.
“Well, jeez, if nothing else you’ve got a colorful story to tell your friends!”
She had a good laugh and we shared the warm familiarity of feeding off of each other’s laughter, amused at the ordeal, amused that the other is so amused and when that wound down she sighed and said, “I’ll tell you one thing, dear. I really miss the old days.”
“You mean the days before the TSA?”
“No, I mean the days when people believed if it walked and talked like a duck, it was probably a duck — the early days when they relied on good, old-fashioned profiling.”
© 2011 Christina Moss