In Lima, at least three jumbos arrive within a half hour of each other at night, about midnight. The immigration post has a dozen or so stations, of which two or three are manned. The line snakes back outside of the immigration room, into an adjoining hallway, where people crush and elbow their way towards the official lines, only to stand there for another hour.
But onto something humorous.
I had just arrived from Panama in Atlanta. I had to catch a plane to Los Angeles.
Therefore, I had to pass through the TSA security post to get into the domestic side of the airport.
I had been living on an island for over two years at the time, and through no effort on my part, I had lost over twenty pounds. This was not a problem, except that all my clothes, especially my Levis were too big for me now.
Also, I carry my cash/credit cards and and passport in a travel bag around my neck. Because it is both uncomfortable and unsightly to wear it over my stomach, I wear it under one arm. This means that in order to take it off, I must remove my shirt. More on that in a moment.
When it was my turn at the metal detector, the middle-aged, minimum waged and minimum trained TSA guy told me to remove my belt.
“Sir, I have lost 20 pounds living in Panama. If I remove my belt, my pants will fall down.”
Steely eyed and like a brainless automaton, he repeated “Remove your belt.”
So, having no alternative other than walking to Los Angeles, I removed my belt. I was now standing in line in front of a lot of business travelers, holding my pants up with one hand. Mr. TSA noticed the travel bag and asked “What is that?”
I replied as nicely as I could “My passport holder,sir.” (perhaps the sir came out snidely, knowing me it did)
“Take it off” he demanded.
“Sir (snidely) to take it off I must take off my shirt. To take off my shirt, I have to let go of my pants, and I promise you sir (very snidely) they will fall down.”
“Take it off” the man said.
I let go of my pants. They fell to my knees. I unbuttoned my Hawaiian shirt and removed it so I could get the passport holder off. I threw the shirt into the plastic bucket with my belt and other items. I had been en-route for 9 hours, and I was very worried that my BVDs were in a condition that would shame my mother, even though she was not there at the time. I pulled up my pants, holding onto them like my pride depended on it, which it did.
The TSA man said, before I got to the metal detector “Hey, put your shirt back on”.
“Sir, (again, snidely) if I let go of my pants they will fall down again. Don’t you think these people behind me have seen enough of the behind of me?”
“Put you shirt back on.”
“Yes SIR” (very snidely)
I let my pants drop and slowly slipped into my Aloha shirt and buttoned it. I turned to watch the business travelers behind me. Half were harried because I was their worst nightmare, that being someone who cost them time, and the other half were smiling or laughing. I gave them all a big smile and said “Hey, at least we are safe in the air!”