I may have mentioned before, possibly just briefly, in passing, about how I am not particularly fond of being high in the air, hurdling through space, trapped in a metal tube. “Not particularly fond” in this context meaning that it freaks me the hell out and only copious amounts of Xanax and alcohol keep me from jumping up out of my seat and screaming, “we’re all going to die!” every time the plane jostles a little.
One way I cope with this, in addition to the Xanax, is to try to make everything leading up to the flight go as smoothly as possible. If just the tiniest thing goes wrong, panic sets in. It’s a sign. I shouldn’t get on the plane. I should go home right now and forget this whole “airline travel” thing ever existed. The stress of thinking about the plane and trying not to think about the plane are just about all I can handle, so even the smallest thing can put me right over the edge. Yes, OK, what I’m trying to say is that I can sort of be a bitch. Not on purpose or anything. It just happens.
My newest tactic is to be extra nice to everyone I pass, to embrace the zen and not get bothered by anything around me. This is not easy. On my flight out last week, I waited in the security line with everyone else, looking back every so often to make sure P. was still there, just in case something happened to me. (He was. He waited just outside the line and waved every time I looked back.)
A guy was standing in line behind me with his two children. His two young children. Impressionable children. He was apparently not all that satisified in the service he was receiving from airport security. Now, call me a coward, but I would never offer airport security my unsolicited opinion of their work unless I wanted to commend them on a job well done. Down the path of unsolicited opinion lies full cavity searches and small rooms with no windows. This guy seemed not so much worried about the possibility of a cavity search. “Jesus Christ. This is the worst airport in the country. You people are a waste of oxygen.” A fine example for his young children. And I think it was only luck and great restraint on the part of the security personnel that his children did not see him carted away and sent to the room with the bright light and the cigarettes. (I don’t know. Interrogation rooms in the movies always have cigarettes in them.)
I remained in my bubble of zen and attempted to ignore him and not infer that this meant my plane was doomed and would fall out of the sky as soon as it got to the highest possible cruising altitude over a sea of broken glass and hungry snakes.
The flight back was a little better. I was flying out of a small airport that rarely has much of a security line. But I made the unconscionable mistake of putting my shoes on top of my laptop. I took off my shoes. I took my laptop out of its case, but I had no idea that one should never, ever put the two together. They both went through the x-ray OK, but a security person standing on the other side was very offended. “Is this yours? You can’t put your shoes on top of your laptop! I have to put them through again separately!” In my faltering zen state, I said OK and waited for them to come out again. She continued to berate me. “You can’t put your shoes on top!” I smiled.
Once they came back through the x-ray, I was talking to the guy behind me as he had an identical ThinkPad, and since each laptop was in a plastic bucket with no other identifying items, we weren’t sure which was which. He opened his to double check he was taking the right one. The security woman swooped down and took my laptop and put it on a table that was further away. She pointed at it and looked at me. “That is your laptop? You put your shoes on top? You shouldn’t have done that.” And she walked away.
I put on my shoes and walked over to my laptop, grateful that my new zen state kept the bitchiness at bay. I can only imagine the imterrogation room I might have ended up in otherwise. The lesson is this. Be zen on the inside. But never put your shoes on top of your laptop. Ever. Some people are pretty hard core about that kind of thing.