You may not know this, but I tend to arrive far earlier than I need to for flights. I blame my 10 year, 2 month, 7 day airline career for that. I’m a big fan of living a low-stress life. I can’t do a helluva lot about some stress (work), but stress in travel, I can sometimes control.

Well, this morning, I was cutting it just a tiny bit close for my 6am departure. How close? I departed my home at 5am, and arrived at the airport at 5:15am. I had checked in online the night before, and all things being equal, 45 minutes is more than enough time to clear TSA at National Airport on a busy day, much less, a Saturday morning. The wrinkle in this mix was that my upgrade cleared overnight, so I needed a couple of seconds to pick up a new boarding pass.

The DCA ticket counter was a mess, and the lines were six deep for a self-service machine. No problem, I’ll just drop by the Admirals Club. I get to TSA, and some American Eagle crew gums up the works by walking in front of everyone, and everything just stops. When I finally get to the front of the line, the walk-through metal detector is either hyper-sensitive, or I’m carrying new metal I’m not aware of. You’ve read my previous post about TSA’s newfound fondness for cavity searches if you happen to wear an insulin pump. Couple that with the metal detector firing off, and it was off to secondary for me. Cavity searches take time. A swab of the pump, my hands, and a probe with that hand wand (and just between us, I ain’t really into being felt up by people I don’t know), and I was officially running late.

No time for the club, I dash to the gate. I get there just in time for Zone 3, but still have plenty of time to grab my boarding pass, that is…if there’d been an agent at the counter. It seems there was only one, and they were boarding the flight. I spy 2 agents at the adjacent gate, and no line. I make a beeline for them. I explain my predicament… my upgrade cleared overnight, and I simply need a new boarding pass, but there’s no agent at the counter for my flight. This seems simple enough to me. And you may know that some of that 10 years, 2 months and 7 days at a certain AAirline was spent at the airport. Trust me, it is simple. But no, the agent hands my now invalid boarding pass back to me mid-sentence and is just about to gesture to go back to my unattended gate when the angel standing next to her mutters these words, “I’ll help him.”

“I’ll help him.” And she did. She entered a couple of keystrokes and approximately 6 seconds later, my non-problem that could’ve been a problem but should not have been, was solved. L. Z., you are wonderful. And an honest-to-goodness, typed, signed in ink letter will be on its way to American Airlines first thing Monday morning making sure your employer damn well knows it.

Six seconds. Seems like a minor investment in Customer service to me. And now you all know why I really left the airline business.