Friday, January 8, 2016

Frugal Father

I get accused of being cheap quite regularly, but it isn't my fault. Really. I was raised by the penny-pinching master.

 (Here is proof. Too cheap to buy goggles? No worries, just use a Ziploc bag.)

My dad's distaste for spending money on unnecessary things was in full force during my family's time in NYC. And unfortunately for Porter, he was made the scapegoat for these money-saving practices.

My mother had our entire sight-seeing days in the Big Apple all planned out. The last day we were there, we became acquainted with Lady Liberty. For those who have never had the splendid opportunity of being up close and personal with this grand statue, there are a few things you should know:

1. You have to go through security to get on the ferry.
2. Once you get to the Statue of Liberty, you have to go through security again to tour the pedestal she stands on.
3. No BACKPACKS are allowed in the museum/pedestal area

Since we were first-timers, we were not familiar with these security checkpoints which led to a breakdown of epic proportions.

Let me set the scene a little bit. First of all, my grandparents were with us for this little trek. They are both in their mid/late 70's, but they more than kept up with us during our tourist endeavors. I don't know if they will ever travel with us again, though. My grandmother gently informed us when our trip came to an end that NYC is for shopping and eating, not all of this subway and walking stuff. I would probably agree with that statement.

We were all a little tired since it was our last day in the big city. We had been going non-stop since we arrived. Tired McKeons coupled with rainy and windy weather only magnified some peoples' feelings toward our Statue of Liberty trek. I won't name those individuals though (*cough* DAD *cough*)

Our family made it through the first round of security with no problems. We then picked up our audio tour equipment and made our way to the pedestal where the second security checkpoint was operating on point.

There was a room filled with lockers for people to dispose of their food, water, AND backpacks. In order to rent one of these lockers, tourists must pay $ cash. We had cash, but we didn't have any single dollar bills and the machine wouldn't accept anything over the exact dollar amount. Not quite sure why we haven't implemented change dispensing technology over there yet, but I digress.

My siblings and parents all started to dump their wallets to find two single dollar bills, but it was no use. To make matters worse, none of us actually wanted to rent a locker, so the baby of the family came up with a brilliant idea. Instead of dishing out two whole dollars, Kirk decided he was just going to walk right through security with the backpack on his back. He was wearing a dark leather jacket so the straps from his backpack blended in quite perfectly. Porter decided to follow suit.

We all lined up with our tickets in hand. One by one we walked past the security lady. She rarely looked up from her ticket scanner. Kirk made it through with his backpack on, no issues. He just walked on by. When Porter walked up, the security lady stopped to examine the guy with one arm. That's when she noticed it...he had two straps slung over his shoulders.

The security lady notified Porter that he would have to rent a locker for his backpack. That's when the family all decided to loose their minds over two bucks.

My dad was not about to relinquish 8 quarters on a rental locker after "paying an arm and a leg" (no pun intended, PJ) for the ticket and audio tour. He decided to have a little chat with security personnel in an attempt to avoid the $2 locker fee. During this episode, my dad's tone was never condescending. Instead it was a combination of satirical rhetoric mixed with a hint of frustration towards the system.

Dad: "Excuse me, my son-in-law only has one arm and needs his backpack."

Security Lady: "There are no backpacks allowed. Only bags with one strap are permitted. Like a purse."

Dad: "I understand that, but he only has one arm. If he trips and falls, what is he supposed to do? He would have to hold the bag with one strap with his one good hand. And then what? Fall on his face or break his arm? It's a liability, he could get hurt."

Security Lady: "I don't know what to tell you, there are no backpacks allowed."

Dad: "What about this situation do you not understand? He only has one arm!"

Security Lady: "I understand that, but he still can't have a backpack."

My dad then sees another woman in line with a massive purse, like bigger than your grandma's. The thing was bigger than my suitcase. She was allowed to walk on by. Upon noticing this, my dad tried to divert her attention.

Dad (pointing at the woman with the gargantuam hand bag): So that thing is allowed in, but not my son-in-law's little backpack?

Security Lady: "It's not the size that's the problem. It only has one strap so she can bring it in."

Dad: "May I speak to your supervisor?"

At this point my dad is scrambling. He knows he has zero argument here. You can see in his face that he is racking his brain for any concrete reasoning as to why Porter would need his backpack on this tour. He just really doesn't want to have to pay the $2 rental fee. I don't know if I can emphasize this enough. This whole debacle is over not wanting to pay $2. Now that dad has singled out the woman carrying all of her life's possessions, everyone is starting to watch the events unfold.

Supervisor: "What's the problem?"

Dad: "My son-in-law needs his backpack. He only has one arm and he needs that exact backpack. We have been through security twice already and he passed both times."

Supervisor: "Well there are no backpacks allowed. If there is something in that backpack, we can take it out and put it in a smaller bag for him to carry and he can rent a locker to put the rest of his stuff in."

Dad: "That's not the problem, he needs that backpack."

Supervisor: "Is there medicine in there that he needs?"

Dad: "He only has one arm and needs that backpack. What do you not understand about that?"

As he is saying this, my dad knows full well he has no point. He doesn't even understand the point he is trying to make. After the scene was said and done, my dad would even admit he had no argument. He literally had no idea what he was even saying. He just really didn't want to surrender two dollars.

Supervisor: "If there is no medical reason, he can't bring in the backpack."

That is when Grandmother came up with the perfect medical explanation.

Grandmother: "He needs his's a balancing backpack! Without it, he will fall over!"

Even after that desperate attempt, the security people wouldn't budge. Grandpa eventually dug out two dollars in his pocket and we rented that blasted locker. The irony of the whole situation was that Kirk, complete with food and water in his backpack, made it past another security checkpoint without anyone taking notice.


Lesson learned. You can't take a backpack onto the Statue of Liberty even if you only have one arm. The only exception is if you walk past security without raising any eyebrows. If that is the case, you are golden.