JFK Airport; New York, New York.
The delays in Dubai caused me to miss my connecting flight. The kind old man in Dubai who changed my flights warned me that this was a possibility.
We land; de-plane, and start going through customs. There are hundreds of people in front of me; many families, many children; all brown.
This is what I worried about; I didn’t want to believe that racial profiling exists. Unfortunately it does; and at this particular airport; it was in full force. Hundreds of non-caucasian people lined up ahead of me.
At customs; there were three lanes starting on the right; US Citizens; Diplomats; Non-US Citizens. There were almost no Americans on the flight; nor diplomats. While travelling; I always wore my NATO badge and passport around my neck. The Department of Homeland Security agents started at the front of the line and began working their way back. I watched them checking the identification and bags of children and families. It didn’t appear friendly; at all.
One of the men makes his way to me. “What’s that?” he says as he grabs my badge. He reads it.
“Where you coming from son?” he asked.
“How long?” he asked.
“Three months so far, first trip home.”
“Where you headed?” he asked.
“Halifax, my flight’s in about 30 minutes.”
“Go there, someone should be there in moment. Tell her you’re connecting to Halifax and she’ll show you where to go. You’d better hurry.” he pointed to the Diplomat queue, which was empty.
I go over; she doesn’t even look at my passport. He must have called someone to meet me there. She knew exactly where I was headed and who I was.
“Go down there, quickly.” she points, “Take a left and check your bags. You’re going to have to get on the airport subway.” she says. “When you check your bags; ask for directions.”
I thank her and start running.
Turns out that travelling through JFK Airport while on leave from a theatre-of-war is a pretty smooth experience; despite the racial profiling I’d witnessed.
Lost on the airport-train; I missed my flight. Two flights missed in two days; I’m quite good at this.
I get to the gate and have to go through security again after slipping outside for a cigarette. There are uniformed US soldiers; armed to the teeth; standing by some of the exits.
Little extreme, no?
I’ve got hours laid over; to sit and wait in this airport. This trip home was only for a week; really only five days.
I search for a power outlet to plug in my laptop. I find one beside a series of elevators; no benches or seats in site. I set up camp with my back against the wall and my legs across the floor; beside the electrical outlet.
Can’t get on Wi-Fi; pain in the ass.
I give up, get up; and walk through security for one last time in search of food.
Coffee; Sausage ‘n’ Egger, hash browns. A feast fit for champions and scholars.