The time had come for a great quest. An adventure of epic proportions. We knew there would be hardships, but were ready to face the dangers with fortitude and optimism. Secure in our abilities to survive whatever mortal challenges might arise, it was decided. We were going on vacation. (You’ll have to imagine the epic music in the background).
It started quite serenely. I was sitting on my padded bench in my hobbit hole, actually it was the couch in my basement, when a wizard appeared. No, he didn’t knock on my door accompanied by thirteen dwarves. He appeared on the magic picture-box, and he spoke of a magic land of milk and honey. Where princesses live on every corner, and everyone smiles with the enthusiasm of a forgotten childhood. I was hypnotized by his words, falling into a spell which blinded me to the costs.
Yea, verily the cost was dear. We had to save for many months to gain entrance to this magical place. In time the gold was paid and admission granted. We packed our supplies, and with elated hearts left our humble dwelling in search of this promised land. Boarding a swift steed called Uber, we joyously made our way to the edge of our village. A foreboding, and mysterious place called The Airport.
The odd thing about this airport place is: though many maps have been made of it’s interior, it is never truly navigable. This is because of an evil spirit which dominates this domain, called Construction. Construction is a beast that never sleeps, and everything it touches becomes a great walled up mess, causing detours and delays. Many have asked, “Is there no great hero who can stop this construction monster?” No there isn’t, because Construction carries with it, a sinister, yet hopeful promise. It is on signs posted everywhere the beast has touched, “Please, pardon our dust. We’re making everything better for YOU.” Weary wanderers never know if this is truth or a lie. But the sad reality is; Construction is omnipresent.
We encountered evidence of the beast before traveling twenty feet beyond the border. However, we are staunch and true-of-heart so we passed through with only minor inconveniences. Having no idea, this was only the first of many trials. The second was even more formidable; A smiling creature wearing a colorful uniform, oft called The Ticketing Agent. Truly, the agent was a likable sort, but he carried the power of a bridge troll. No one got through without speaking to him or one of his minions, and in turn, receiving an ever-elusive boarding pass.
Now I must admit, there were positives about this agent fellow. He was charismatic and offered to relive us of some of our luggage, for a small fee. He also gladly gave encouragement that it would arrive at out destination at approximately the same day we would, pleasantly gave directions to a narrow path, which was the only way forward through the carpeted mire. I guess the only negative was, since everyone must see him, the delay was long. Nevertheless, when our turn arrived, we were moved efficiently through. This was quite different from our next trial; The virtually impenetrable forest of TSA. Where the faint of heart dare not go.
Upon entering the TSA forest, one immediately knows he is in a strange place. There is only a single narrow path which every traveler, no matter how brave and strong, must traverse. It is maze-like, with twists and turns making one dizzy and unsure they are even moving in the correct direction. Suddenly it opens to a large area filled with the strangest beings imaginable. They are all clad in blue and wear non-latex, powder-free rubber on their hands. They beckon everyone to their bizarre ceremonies with nary a smile. When you reach the hallowed point, you are suddenly and unceremoniously told to remove your shoes and coats for you are on sacred ground.
These and all other belongings are placed on a magical platform which takes them into some sort of mind tunnel. I am not completely sure what happens there. Perhaps a ritual cleansing? Maybe a blessing of some sort? I don’t know, but I do know most items come out exactly as they went in. The only exception I saw, was a gentleman in front of me. When his belongings went in, a red light erupted, and all his belongings were taken to the side were two of the locals ordered him to remove all the contents of his satchel which were subject to a thorough and intrusive inspection. The man was released after a few moments, but the inquiry delayed everyone else.
As for me, my belongings went through fine but when I walked through the Arch of Discovery, everyone is made to pass beneath, the thing wailed like a banshee. They waved a magic wand over me and discovered I had forgotten to put my wife’s phone on the moving platform. It truly was a mistake; however, the callous natives of this strange place were not amused. They released me with a stern warning to be more careful the next time I came upon territory. Then, as suddenly as it sprang up, the sacred area was past. We collected our belongings, replaced our shoes and moved to a foreboding place, referred to in ancient texts as the Concourse.
The concourse was a long, wide, and seemingly friendly cave lit by hundreds of fluorescent bulbs. The carpet had a nice pattern and the walls were painted in a soothing beige. There were colorful photos of places one could visit assuming one made it out unscathed. This was the enigma. In the concourse one can only move forward. No one moves backwards through the dreaded TSA. So even as inviting as the concourse feels, again the travelers are still being forced to bend to the will of some unseen lord. This is where the real danger lies, because all along the concours, on both sides an unspeakable horror awaits: Vendors.
Be assured, there are more ways to relieve you from your gold here, than there are stars in the sky. Since you are trapped here for a time the prices are unreasonably high. A dollar chocolate treat costs three in this unholy place. And due to some spell cast on us when we were not looking, we paid it, and smiled while we did. Why? I don’t know. All our previous training in thrift, just went out the window. Oh, the shame in it all.
This is why I insisted on arriving late. It seems that the only, antidote to all these temptations is, being in a hurry. Luckily, we found our conveyance quickly and were tightly herded into a long metal tube, which had its own obstacles to overcome. But that is a tale for another day.
Good-morrow my friends