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When I started my job almost a year ago, I was told there would be some traveling and I could expect to be out of the office about two days a week. At the time, a little travel sounded good. It would be a nice break from the office, maybe a little adventure, a little windshield time to spice up the monotonous routine of in-office billing. But faster than a flight attendant can come by to pick up your drink, I became a daily fixture at the airport. Recently, my travel was put into perspective. I received a call from my usual airline carrier and was informed that I was one of its top 10 Dallas-based fliers. In fact, because of my repeated (i.e. daily) use of the airline over the past year, I was invited to enjoy a baseball game in its luxury suite at The Ballpark in Arlington. As I hung up the phone, I began to quantify this distinction. Hmmm, in a Metroplex of approximately 10 million people, I have flown in and out of Dallas Love Field more than 9,999,990 others. Wow! My odds of being in a plane crash just went way down. Anyway, as fate would have it, I was actually going to be flying back into town that evening in time to make the baseball game. So, with a companion pass offered to me as enticement, I decided to rush from the airport to make the game. Driving to the baseball game, I couldn’t help but wonder if the invite was an actual token of corporate America’s appreciation for the business traveler or an elaborate social experiment to see if the road-weary business traveler could interact with others outside of an airport setting. As my companion and I arrived at the stadium with the complimentary parking pass in hand, my thoughts of being a guinea pig soon faded, and the “routine” I experience every day began to take over. With my ticket in hand, I made my way to the “security check-in” at the ballpark, and, like a machine, I automatically began removing any and all metal from my pockets. At the turnstile, I took off my shoes for the X-ray, handed my ticket to the agent and proceeded to go through. I breathed a sigh of relief as no alarm went off and the touchy-feely “wand waiver” allowed me to pass. As my companion and I entered the suite, I noticed that all these people were familiar to me, but somehow they looked out of place without the worn-out, don’t-make-eye-contact-with-me look on their faces. Since I hadn’t spoken to any of these people on my daily flights, I determined that these were all veteran travelers who follow the unspoken (no pun intended) “early morning no-talking rule.” As all seasoned early morning business travelers know, on flights leaving before 8 a.m., there is an unwritten rule that you do not talk to the passenger sitting next to you. These flights are reserved for people who want to read the paper, sleep or sit sipping their coffee staring at the back of the seat in front of them; you do not want to disturb that kind of meditation. You always can tell when there is a “tourist,” otherwise known as a novice, early morning flier on board — the person discusses how the metal detector works or why he or she didn’t have to show an ID at the gate. In that same vein, no one wants to hear about someone’s cat named Snickers or how awful the complimentary orange juice is in the gate area. With these rules understood, it was clear that I was among friends. Not only was I among well-seasoned nomads, I was among lawyers. Sure enough, more than half of the invitees were lawyers, mostly young lawyers familiar with the toxic-tort deposition circuit. I am sure that these lawyers have seen more small Texas towns than Mapsco ever could dream of. FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS As I surveyed the suite, I could tell that the life of single-serving peanuts and a drink (with an ice to beverage ration of 6-to-1) was going to be put on hold for the evening. So with food and drink in hand, those in attendance sat down (in every other seat of course, giving each other plenty of space) and enjoyed America’s favorite pastime. We seemed to be cruising smoothly until we hit some turbulence in the bottom of the fifth inning. At that point, with drink coupons out and ready, I proceeded to grab a beer for the others in the row and myself. To my surprise, there was no more beer. [Some background information for those (i.e. 9,999,990 of you) who may not fly through Dallas Love Field as frequently: The more you fly, the more reward points you receive; after so many points, you receive drink coupons, which you may redeem on your flight for the alcoholic beverage of your choice.] The 10 of us had been invited to this game because we fly more than everyone else. Because we fly more than everyone else, it stands to reason that those of us at the game probably have more and use more drink coupons than anyone else. Essentially, we have been trained by our hosts to be … well … is cirrhosis of the liver covered under workers’ comp? So, knowing how many packs and packs of drink coupons we must have stashed away in our carry-on items, how is it possible to run out of beer in the bottom of the fifth inning of a baseball game? However, as with all turbulence, we were able to make it through this rough patch without incident. At the middle of the seventh inning, we were all glad to see that the fasten seatbelt sign had been turned off and we could get out of our seats to stretch. It was at that time that I decided I needed to make a change in the flight schedule and would have to depart early from the game. Do you know why? I had a 6:30 a.m. flight to catch the next morning, of course. TESTED LAWYER-TRAVELER TIPS The “Pre-emptory Strike”: When selecting a seat on an open-seating flight, you want to discourage fellow passengers from choosing to sit in the middle seat next to you. This middle seat is reserved for the brief you are working on, your deposition notes or the crossword puzzle. No matter what your preference, merely placing books, briefcases or a newspaper on the middle seat only offers minimal deterrence to the prospective middle-seat passenger. The most reliable technique is the pre-emptory strike. This is performed by choosing a row that has an end seat occupied by someone whom others may consider uninviting. For example, someone who may be attending the local monster truck rally or on a work-release program. Even those conversationalists that prefer the middle seat won’t want to sit in that row. Perfecting the “pre-emptory strike” will preserve your middle seat until there are no more middle seats left on the plane. Treat TSA Agents Like Judges: Anything you say to a Transportation Security Administration agent, no matter how amusing, clever or witty, will result in you being searched. If spoken to, limit all your responses to “yes, sir” or “no, ma’am.” Anything more than those responses and you have a good chance of getting the wand. And don’t ask for the complimentary frisk. Consider the Ticketing Agent a Court Clerk: The ticketing agent controls the access to the stand-by list just like the court clerk controls access to the judge. And when you want to catch the early plane to Dallas, there is no better friend than the ticketing agent at the gate. The agent can make your life easy or can move you down the docket and have you sitting in Houston Hobby Airport for two more hours. Be nice to the agent. The Airport Interrogatories: In a lawsuit, the Texas Rules for Civil Procedure allow for 25 interrogatories; there are no similar limitations at the airport. The common businessman has no concept of this rule, and if you allow the conversation to progress beyond the initial pleasantries, your whole flight will be spent listening to why you need a new cover sheet on your TPS report. So, after a long deposition that went every which way but yours, there is nothing worse than the businessman wanting to know what you do for a living. In this situation, your first response is to explain that you are an attorney; you represent a client, and you are not at liberty to discuss the matter any further with him. When the businessman gets the nerve to pursue this, which he will, inform him that you work for Keyser Soze and leave it at that. The Mystery of the Metal Detector: All travelers must go through the metal detector. Going through the metal detector is like taking the bar, you either pass or fail; there’s no in-between. For those who pass, you may proceed to your gate; for those who fail, you can expect to receive an intensive review of your bags and person — courtesy of your friendly TSA agent. Unlike the bar, however, you only have to remember one important concept for passing the metal detector test: The metal detector detects metal. Remember this simple concept and adjust accordingly. Then you should have no problem getting to your gate. If your shoes have metal in them, take them off. If you are wearing a watch, it probably has metal in it, take it off. For the adventurous (or the masochistic) traveler, try and see how much metal you can wear and still not set off the metal detector. Just remember, they get paid to search you. Bryant Bremer earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Kansas and a J.D. from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. A litigation associate with DeHay & Elliston in Dallas, Bremer maintains his primary office at 30,000 feet.

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