Travel Day

I used to be an asshole.  An airport asshole, to be precise.

I was always a polite asshole, the kind that overanalyzed everything but never made a scene.  Yesterday I traveled from Charlottesville to Nashville via Atlanta and my asshole-ness was revealed to me.  I forgot I had a yogurt in my purse.  The TSA agent searched my bag at the security checkpoint and displayed the offender for everyone to see.  Embarrassing?  Yes.  But it was the I-am-sorry-but-not-really-because-seriously-lady-have-you-never-traveled-before? look on his face when he kindly but firmly rebuffed my argument that Chobani yogurts are almost solid (it’s the high protein content, no doubt) that brought it home.  Here I was, flying for the first time in nearly a year, being the asshole who holds up the line, attempts to argue around the rules and inevitably loses.  Never mind that I had packed all of my less than 3.4 fl oz liquids in a Ziploc bag and remembered to take my laptop out of its sleeve.

I have done a fair bit of air travel.  Twelve years of annual if not bi-annual commuting back and forth between the US and France, a trip to Hong Kong, another to Japan, and even a Paris to Pointe-a-Pitre back in the days when smoking on the plan was allowed in a designated section of the main cabin.  My most vivid memory of my trip to Guadeloupe?  Holding my breath and crying my eyes out while swimming through a dense fog to reach the self-serve beverage cart in the back of the cabin.  I’ve checked luggage; I’ve carried on.  I’ve flown direct, indirect, backwards, in business class once but mostly in coach.  I went five years ordering vegetarians dinner meal ahead of travel, but it turns out it is no better – or worse – than the ubiquitous pasta option.

I used to believe I had travel all figured out.  I used to feel gleeful when I arrived early at the airport and was all checked in two hours before my flight.  I thought I had superior knowledge of when to take the airport transit rail and when to walk based on the crowd (always walk when there are more than 3 strollers in sight, unless the men in those traveling parties are wearing Baby Bjorns).  I believed I had a sixth sense for finding neglected electrical outlets nearby low traffic departure gates.  My travel outfits were the best outfits, broken-in jeans and an extra pair of socks for on the plane because it’s no fun being cold on a seven-hour flight.  I had no sympathy for the lady in three inch heels and my shoulders tensed up at the sight of flip flops and tube tops – no, I really don’t need to know that you just came back from a ten day cruise in the Bahamas and it was awesome.

 So yesterday when my yogurt was rightfully confiscated, I was served a heaping dose of travel karma.  I hadn’t hoped to sneak a yogurt past security, I forgot that yogurts were liquids and liquids greater than 3.4 fl oz are not allowed.  I simply forgot.  With that realization, I stopped playing travel police.  I had been such an asshole to fellow travelers.  I will never again sigh at the mother of two young children and three adult-size carry-on bags who doesn’t let me go by on the express walkway.  I will smile at the pilots, for they may be my pilot, and at the vendors at the Sharper Image kiosk who never seem to have any costumers.  I will smile at fellow travelers – well, except the ones who hole up in the glass-paneled smoking rooms of the Hartfield-Jackson airport, that’s just incomprehensible.  We all get on the best we can in this life.  And sometimes the best we can includes forgetting to unpack a yogurt.

I think I was ready for this lesson anyway, because I broke my travel outfit rule and wore tartan ballet flats with no socks on this trip.

We go on many journeys, but those that bring self-awareness are especially sweet.

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2 Responses to Travel Day

  1. THE VIBE 101 says:

    I always hate it when I need to take my knee high boots off. There’s something about these shoes that make the scanner go off…how embarassing!

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