“You’re pre-check,” the TSA agent informed me. “You can go through the line without taking your boots off or taking your computer out.”
Really? Yippee-ki-yay! I had no clue why I had been designated “pre-check”, but her words were like choirs of angels bursting into sweet, celebratory song. After a series of significant travel snafus and disappointments — including our flight being cancelled on Christmas Day — it was nice to be told the typical airport hassle would be mitigated as Jamie and I tried for the second time in 24 hours to get to Denver for the holidays.
But hold the tinsel, Virginia. The travel Grinch wasn’t done yet. I passed through the metal detector, and it beeped. I’d been selected for a random hand swab. The little machine screeched. The agent ‘s eyes narrowed with suspicion.
Not only would I have to remove my boots, I’d get the privilege of an intimate encounter with a female TSA agent. As I waited for a gender appropriate agent, Jamie — who’d been relegated to the regular line — threw me a questioning look. I shrugged. Another glitch on the road of trying to spend the holidays with family.
After a heavyset agent with bright red hair invaded my space in an intensely personal way (“back of the hand, ma’am”), I was led from a private room to a table where they would search and swab my luggage, purse and sundry accessories. The agent handed me my boots. “Would you like us to bring you a chair so you can put these on?”
“Oh, no. That’s OK,” I replied. “I can put them on standing up. My balance is good – I do yoga.”
“Yoga!” she exclaimed as she rifled through my belongings. “Does that help keep you calm?”
“Weelllll….yes. I am calm right now, aren’t I?” I replied, smiling.
“Actually, you really are,” replied the agent, with a look that nearly bordered on pleasant. “You’re WAY calmer than most of the people we put through this.”
The thing is, I was amazingly calm — nothing like I would have been 15 or 20 years ago in the same circumstance. It struck me that throughout our travel tragi-dramas, I had remained (mostly) serene. My yoga practice gets big credit for that. When disappointment, frustration, or irritation threatened to get the best of me, I turned to my breath. I practiced santosha — the precept of non-attachment and choosing contentment.
I tried to find compassion for the people who had to work on the holiday. Staying focused on gratitude gave me perspective. Plenty of grievous human suffering is present in the world. What we were experiencing was nothing even close to that.
We had the means to fly on a different airline when our original flight was delayed beyond reason. We were on our way to spend several days in a gorgeous, winterland setting. My family was safe and healthy, and we would be reunited soon enough.
The agent finished her search, and said I was cleared. I began to put my things in order.
“This job is so stressful,” she sighed. “I’ve got to do something or I am going to drop dead. Do you think yoga would help me deal with stress?”
Yes, I told her. I’m certain it would.