And the answer is – cheerful and helpful. The question? What were the men and women of Spokane International Airport security like first thing in the morning after more than a month of the federal government shutdown?
Now, with the possibility of a second government shutdown looming, it might be informative to flash back to 3:30 Wednesday morning, Jan. 23.
Mrs. O and I had arrived early for a 4:40 a.m. boarding on an Alaska Airlines plane headed for Kauai, with visions of unhappy, shorthanded security workers herding passengers through the metal detectors with cattle prods. Others shared the same sentiment as we waited to be whisked away from a slushy snowfall for the sunshine of Kauai and beaches up and down Kuhio Highway (Route 56).
The security troops, who hadn’t been paid while President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi mud-wrestled over Trump’s border wall, were in place by 3:45. Then, they began ushering sleepy passengers through the X-ray machines, including an insensitive old-timer wearing a blue ballcap, embossed with the word “TRUMP.”
Passengers were greeted with welcoming smiles from the two women who checked photo IDs. Mrs. O and I thanked them for handling a tough situation with grace, something lacking in our leaders.
As I endure the snow dump of recent days with the rest of the regional snow-shovel brigade, Kauai remains on my mind in a series of snapshots:
A 20-something in an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weenie thong bikini on Poipu Beach talks on and on about her tattoos, including one of a blue spider behind her right ear that she regrets. The others she can hide. But the spider attracts too many questions from customers. She plans to spend $250 to have it removed. She wonders if the tats have chased away potential boyfriends.
A Portuguese guide tells four-wheelers enjoying the Piku Ranch Adventures ATV tour near a film site for the “Jurassic Park” franchise that he’s a sixth-generation Kauai islander. Quips he: “I have to be careful who I date.”
A clerk at the Kauai Rum Co. gift shop greets a man in an expensive Hawaiian shirt warmly. She says he is showing the locals respect by wearing a Hawaiian shirt.
At Poipu Beach, a Kansas Jayhawk fan spots my Gonzaga T-shirt and asks how “Gon-ZAH-ga” is doing this year. I tell her that the Zags are (then) ranked No. 4 and correct her pronunciation of the university’s name.
Poet’s Corner: “I can recall warm summer days/ of great beauty seen but rarely;/ I can recall warm summer days,/ but at this point only barely” – Tom Wobker, The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“Memories in Late Winter”) … Signs of the Times, Hawaiian style (on Java Kai restaurant in Kapa’a): “Please don’t feed the chickens. It’s all fun and games until they eat your whole sandwich.” (Anyone who has been to Kauai will understand that chickens are everywhere, protected by law, especially roosters that crow outside your bedroom window 24/7/365) … Sign of the Times II (on Mermaids Café in Kapa’a): “You don’t have to be crazy to work here. We’ll train you” … An Idea Whose Time Hasn’t Come (at the Walmart in Lihue, Kauai): Spam-flavored Macadamia nuts.
Hawaii was a swell place to go to escape our Inland Northwest winter (which was waiting with a vengeance upon our return). However, I’m not sure the feeling was mutual. An online poll in The Garden Island newspaper asked: “Should Kauai have some regulations to limit tourism?” Of the 463 votes, 28 percent said, “No way (The island’s economy hinges on tourism).” Another 27 percent voted, “No point. (It will never ever happen).” But a plurality of 45 percent responded: “Absolutely (Something must be done to reduce the number of visitors here on a daily basis).” Uh, they love us not?
D.F. “Dave” (or Kawika, in Hawaiian) Oliveria can be contacted at email@example.com.
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