Usually when I am in an airport, I’m with the family. So, getting to the no-turning-back point on the other side of security can be stressful. Twice we’ve had incidents going through security. Once one daughter really did have water in her backpack after she was so sure she didn’t. She was pulled out of line and made to go through her bag with the security officer who was stern about it until the tears started. I don’t think he realized how young my very tall girl really was, and switched from a sharp “Miss, you can’t take this through, you need to throw it away. Are you SURE there’s nothing else in the bag,” to “It’s ok, we’ll just throw it away and you’ll be fine!” in the blink of an eye.
Another time I was only with the other daughter and she was diverted through quickly with a random TSA pre-check designation. We let them shuffle her through and I said I would meet her on the other side. But then for unknown reasons, I was flagged for extra wanding and patting down, all my belongings unpacked and repacked. So she wound up standing on the other side of mobbed security, unable to see me, and waiting for nearly 30 minutes, alone. (Someone really needs to think through that system when you are traveling with young teens and younger.) She was a bit freaked by the time I made it to her.
And these incidents are just recent, they don’t count the traveling with toddlers/young kids fun of getting through security of the past. Do you have the stroller? I have Katie’s hand, do you have Lydia? Stay right here with me while I dig out my laptop, and take off my shoes… Ok, yes, Katie, you have to walk through the detector on your own, I’ll be right behind you. It’s ok. Don’t worry, if it beeps we’ll be right here, but it won’t beep because we got everything off we’re supposed to. Oh crap! I still have my belt on. Ok, just a second… Wait, what? She packed a bunch of pipe cleaners in her backpack? Well, yeah, I suppose that looks a bit suspicious on an x-ray… sigh… sweat… gasp. I still have a building stress Pavlovian reaction to the lead up to security check in the airport. I can feel it drop away as we get our bags and belts and shoes and sweaters on the other side. We’re through, nothing we can do about anything we forgot now, and we made it through that mess.
When I’m traveling with hubby it’s far easier, but for some reason I’m much more likely to fumble or drop thigs or struggle even when I am just with him. Don’t know why. Maybe he still flusters me after all these years!
Going through on my own was very different. Just me. Slip on shoes, no belt. Laptop easily out, Ziploc of chargers with wires pulled out just in case. Oh, why, yes, I can take off my scarf. And I’m through. That’s it. I had that feeling that I was missing something, like a limb or something.
But the differences didn’t stop there. Since there had been a series of news stories about the long lines through security recently, and I was flying internationally, I got to the airport extra early. Then there was no line when I dropped off my suitcase, and exactly 3 people in front of me through security. I felt a bit like the rapture happened and I missed it – and I had nearly three hours until my flight as I sat down to wait. Well, now what?
You know what? I went and got coffee in a very leisurely fashion. I pondered the existential meaning of a Teavana cup being used to hold the stirrers in the Starbucks. I had a lovely conversation with the young agent at the currency exchange – his first name is the same as my brother’s birth name, and yes, he’s also from Korea and adopted. Hm. Cool. There was no one else in line, so we chatted for a bit.
I caught up on some email, nearly cleaning out the box. I watched a CNN special on the 80s – ah, a young Trump (surreal), Leona Helmsley, Jim & Tammy Faye Baker… Oh, the 80s.
I got something to eat. Like real food, and I pondered what I wanted before ordering: mini roasted asparagus and brie sandwich, mini ham & cheese with spicy mustard on a little soft-pretzel bun, Kalamata olives, basil-salted tomatoes… Um, yummy.
I’m in an airport, and I’m relaxed. What a novel, beautiful concept.
And it didn’t stop there. For the 8 hour flight across the Atlantic, I am seated beside a very nice gentleman from Guatemala. It’s a red eye, so we just exchange pleasantries, eat our meal, I watch a little TV and fall asleep. In the morning over breakfast I learn where he is from, that our stays in Venice will overlap, about his family, and that I should consider a central-american vacation some day. He even helps me find the board giving me my connection gate in Munich before we wave and go our separate ways. Scott gives me a lopsided ‘you’re so funny’ smirk when I tell him that he should be careful making me travel on my own, after twenty years of marriage I slept with a guy from Guatemala because he wasn’t there with me.
For me, getting from Point A to Point B was quite smooth and relaxing. For Scotty, not so much. But I’ll let him tell you about that, frustration brings out his humor, so it should be a good one.