Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Airport Fun (No TSA didn't tackle me [this time])

I'm in Rochester, Minnesota again, but so far at least, there's nothing particularly notable about my time here. But with a little help from Rachel I had a lot of fun on the way here.

On Saturday Rachel flew to Oklahoma City for her grandfather's Birthday, and she had a connection in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). When I fly to and from Minnesota, I use MSP -- and that's where I found myself this past Tuesday evening.

Half-joking I suggested that she hide clues for me to find during her time in the terminal. It was an interesting prospect to me on a somewhat ephemeral level: Two close individuals crossing the same physical space separated by time but aware of the others previous or impending existence in the same place.

Given the hyperoverreactive nature of airport security these days, I was somewhat afraid that one or both of us would get tackled, and that gave me slight pause. But there's nothing wrong much less illegal about the idea.

But Saturday came and went: Rachel made her flights and during her time in Minneapolis managed to hide three clues in the terminal. Before my flight left Cleveland Tuesday morning she emailed me three "C"lues. During my flight I had some second thoughts: She was on a different concourse; do I have time to get over there and back to get my luggage? It will just go round and round on the belt until it gets pulled off and put aside. Won't I look somewhat suspicious? Yeah, probably, but how many people are really paying attention?  What if I get tackled? I don't know if I could survive being tackled.

On landing in Minneapolis I was tired but excited: If for no other reason than Rachel had gone to the effort to hide the clues and I was wondering if I would be able to find them -- and if they had survived slightly over three days -- 72 hours -- of thousands of people passing by, blissfully unaware, and if they'd escape the wrath of airport cleaners buffers, rags, and vacuums.

The prize for solving clue #1
So guided by the clues I very quickly made my way to the C concourse upon deplaning on Minneapolis's E concourse. I knew I was close and with a tiny bit of help I found clue #1, 1/3rd of a Post-it Note [coincidentally brought to us by a Minnesota company -- 3M] behind a desk in a quiet little business hideaway.

Though this, as it turns out, was the most secluded of the clue locations I was most nervous here because -- besides being the first clue -- there was only one other human in the immediate area, and I thought for sure he might think it was a bit strange that I was looking under and behind one particular desk. I don't even think he noticed that someone else had joined him in the room-- I probably could have set up a small marching band without him taking notice.

Clue #2 solved and the giant stack of books that sheltered it.
The next clue lead me to a nearby bookstore and when I approached I was somewhat surprised to find the clue simply laying face-down on the tile floor behind a column with a base of over sized books. The clue had a glob of dust on the back of it but was otherwise unharmed. Rachel later told me that it had been stuck to the bottom book in the stack and our hypothesis is that it was just too dusty for Post-it adhesive to stick. I'm not sure how long it had been lying in its vulnerable position but it was quite lucky that it hadn't fallen victim to a mop -- or a curious child -- during its three days in the wild.

The last clue solved and the message completed!
Clue #3 drew me across the corridor to a store known simply as "Minnesota" and this clue gave me the most trouble. Largely because I had missed the "Stay away from the bears" part of Rachel's clue and I had gravitated to the birds. Once I asked for help, I found my third and final reward hiding in the trees far away from the bears but still safely against the wall.

The complete message in hand and gleefully texting Rachel that her efforts had not been in vain I started running back toward the E concourse and the appropriate baggage claim, with visions of my bag idly circling an otherwise abandoned carousel. Getting to the carousel I find a pile of unclaimed bags with mine nowhere to be found and a United employee pulling the last of the bags. He isn't sure if my flight has dropped yet. I suspect it has but look at the few bags circling to make sure the flight number doesn't match. After a few minutes I go to the baggage service office and find that my bag has, apparently, decided to enjoy a little extra time in Chicago and will be delivered to my hotel later in the evening.

Had I known, I probably would have taken a more leisurely and less frantic approach to clue finding. But it all worked out: I found the clues, I got my bag, and there's something somewhat thrilling knowing that although Rachel and I weren't in the same place at the same time, we were able to exchange messages through the same place at different times. (Oh, and I didn't get tackled by TSA or airport security).

I'm in Minnesota the rest of this week, then I'm in Cleveland just long enough to attend a Cleveland Orchestra concert at Blossom before heading to Northern California for work where Rachel will join me and I'll take my first "real" vacation this year while we tour NorCal, Northwestern Nevada, and visit my grandmother in Southern Oregon.

Travel isn't all about the destination. Find new ways to enjoy the journey.


No comments:

Post a Comment