Friday, February 15, 2013

Kate Miller 2: The Longest Line

For those who want to hear more about our Christmas trip, here's the next Kate Miller story:

2. The Longest Line (Dec 16)
            The dock at New York was its own Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Kate had never seen the movie, but she liked to think about the title at convenient times like this one. For two cruise ships, there was no particular line for luggage drop off. She and Mister Miller had brought only two bags. But, she thought philosophically, where there is nothing to do with your bags, even one is too many. In the confusion, she had let go of her own roller to follow a string of people who were in turn following a porter, who was spouting (what she thought might be) rash promises of easy delivery to their cabins. After a momentary heart failure when she realized it was missing, she spotted her roller fifteen feet behind her, looking lonely and stranded…just how she felt.
            Wisely or unwisely, the porter was trusted with the two bags, and Kate and Mister were subsequently squeezed—really squeezed—into a freight elevator…where they will promptly gas us all and steal our things, Kate thought dramatically. But they made it safely to a concourse, where they had to go through security and afterwards find their own check-in line. Security was fine. A little tedious, she thought. But after the first half hour of standing in the check-in line, she felt that security…and the outside chaos, for that matter…had been downright efficient.
            Up and back, up and back, the line was maneuvered so that it looked deceptively short. Another half hour passed by. Mister brought the nuts out of his backpack. Kate finished the water bottle and peeled an orange, savoring the beautiful citrus smell as she dug into the peel, (and as always, feeling a little superior that everyone else in the line must be wishing they had brought oranges.) The oranges being done away with, and the prunes being dug into, and another half hour having passed, Kate was beginning to feel an insistent urge to find a restroom.
            Mister looked at her with apprehension. “You’d better go,” he said, “I think we’ll be here for a while.” Kate hated leaving a line for any reason. What if everyone thought she was cutting when she came back? What if Mister made it to the end of the line without her? She looked desperately around. It didn’t matter, she had to go. She ducked out of the line and ran down the concourse to the ladies room. When she came back, Mister had merely turned the corner and was standing one row over, facing the way they had just come. Oh dear, she thought, this will take forever!
            Hours later, they made it to the counter to check in. On the last stretch of the line, Kate and Mister had amused themselves by rating the efficiency of the various attendants, one lady stood out above the others. She actually had people come down and form a line in front of her station because she checked them in so much faster than anyone else. They approached the counter, but the attendant in front of them couldn’t say anything. He had just taken a large bite of food. Kate all but glared at him.
            “Everyone who comes up looks so angry,” he said, as he checked their tickets and stateroom numbers. “You’re all going on a cruise, for goodness sake. I’d be thrilled, no matter how long the line was.”
            Kate felt goaded. Her feet ached. Her backpack had been weighing on her neck and shoulders. Her head hurt. She was famished. She was tempted to point out, as the attendant took another bite of sandwich and leisurely looked up the credit card information that it was partly his fault that the line was so long and that people were angry.
            But, she sighed as they made their way down the hall to board, he’s still right. We ARE going on a cruise…then, rebelliously, After I eat something, and put our bags down, THEN I’ll be happy about it. 

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