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Faces

He walks with a limp. Bent and stooped over he looks at the ground rather than straight ahead. With bowed legs and hips that curve to the left, his cane helps him to stand and move along.

That part I remember about him. He’s been like that for several years. But I was taken aback when I saw his face. Mouth sucked in. Cheeks seeming to drop off the side of his face. Almost puffy. Then I realized, he had no teeth! That was new.

When I was a child he had good teeth. Except the two front teeth on top, the ones that show the most. They were brown. He always said that was from being hit in the mouth by a rifle butt when he was in the army during World War Two. I guess that is true.

Then a couple of years ago I noticed that those two teeth had turned white. Dental whitening I thought. Lots of people whiten their teeth.

But the other day I took him to the dentist because his denture was hurting him. After the dental tech took him back to the chair the dentist came out to greet me. She said he’d been a patient of hers for a long time. The sign on her door read cosmetic oral surgery. Now I get it.

Turns out he has only two of his original teeth left. The rest are fake. And one of the originals needs to come out because it’s causing the denture pain. Damn, he’ll be down to one original.

Not like he’s thirty years old though. Not even forty. Or fifty. Hell, not even seventy or eighty. Nope, he’s ninety two years old. And still has one of his own teeth.

With his teeth in, in spite of his posture, he doesn’t look a day over eighty five. With the teeth out he looks like a cartoon character. Around the house he will leave them out. But when he goes out he puts in his teeth. He wants to look good for the ladies. And they all smile at him.

That’s my dad.

And that’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Selective Screening

After 9/11 the Transportation Safety Administration made air travel really difficult. You had to show an ID with a name and picture matching the name on your ticket. That was just to stand in line. Then you had to take off your shoes and belt and watch and any jewelry and empty your pockets and put all of that stuff into a bin that was run through an x-ray machine. And of course your carry on baggage also went through the x-ray machine. And so did you.

They weren’t taking any chances. Guns and knives and crazy people still showed up at airports, but for the most part the agency was able to keep the items of danger off of airplanes. Just not the crazy people.

After a while, as things calmed down and no more planes crashed or blew up, not including the ones shot down by various nation’s military, and that Malaysian flight that still seems to be a mystery (can you say crazy pilot?), the procedures eased up a little bit.

People were getting tired of standing in line for hours. Yes, hours. We were told to arrive at least two hours prior to flight departure to be sure we could get through security screening. You still had to wait in line, and still had to do all of the above, while being sniffed by bomb and drug trained dogs, but somehow it moved a little faster. Then for some reason it got really bad again.

The head of security at the Atlanta airport, the world’s busiest, got fired. Too many people waiting in too many long lines. Somewhere in that time frame the TSA began selling a pre-check service. If you told them all of your secrets, and gave them all of the information they wanted, they would allow you to go through security without taking off your shoes. It only cost $85.00 per year.

I don’t fly enough to make that a worthwhile investment. If I can drive somewhere in less than a day, I will hit the road rather than the airways. It’s easier. And sometimes I’ll drive for two days rather than fly. Even though I almost always get randomly selected for a TSA pre-check. For free.

It’s supposed to be a random selection, but I would say that the last six flights I’ve been on, I’ve been randomly selected for this rapid security screen six times. Maybe they know I was travelling on a bereavement pass one time. Or that I’m a combat decorated veteran with a disability. Or maybe they know that I have stinky feet and taking my shoes off makes everyone’s day unpleasant. I don’t know.   I

t doesn’t seem to save me much time except that I don’t have to stand in as along a line to get to the part where you run your belongings through the x-ray machine.

They may be catching on to me though. The last two times I flew I scooted through with the TSA pre-check, and then got randomly stopped at the x-ray machine for further evaluation. The first time I think was not random but retaliatory for asking the TSA guy a question while he was talking to someone else. The second tome I think was because I was having a bad hair day.

I’ll take it if they give it to me, but it won’t make me fly any more frequently. But it’s nice to know that someone trusts me. That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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