01 December 2011

breaking the rules {part III}

Like Maria in The Sound of Music taught us, you should start at the very beginning of this story: Part I.


After boldly walking down the Priority Access line, I handed over my boarding pass and smiled.

I asked how the TSA guy was doing, making sure I made eye contact. He was young—early 20s—tall, and thin, like an upright praying mantis with a badge.

"Boy, it's sure busy here today, isn't it? Do you have a long shift in front of you?"

"Not too bad. In fact, I'm going on break right now. You probably have a long day, though," he said as he looked at my driver's license, perhaps checking if the smile in the picture matched the smile on my face.

"Just a couple of meeting in New Jersey and then a dinner thing. It'll be a good day, I'm sure."

"I hope it is for you. You have a nice flight, Miss Walker." And with that, he handed back my boarding pass and driver's license and pointed me to the front of the line.


"I can't believe it worked," I told my boss when I found him at Gate K9. "I feel a little like I cheated, but it worked."

That's when he piped up with his advice about risking embarrassment and walking like you belong. I was thinking that over as I settled in to 29F. Book here, computer out, flash drive handy—and what about those hundreds of people I cut in front of? Were they all going to make their flights?

I though of the 30something guy in a hoodie who'd been in the process of taking off his shoes when the praying mantis TSA guy had waved me through. A shoe in his hand, he hopped on one foot and nodded at me to go ahead, as if I were some sort of airport celebrity, the Julia Roberts of O'Hare.

How long had he been waiting? Did he bite down all his fingernails in anxiety? Did he know that he had a hole in his sock?

"Excuse me." The businessman in 29D interrupted my guilty spiralling around holey socks and falsified importance. "I stopped at that new Rick Bayless restaurant—that Torta Frontera—and got this huge breakfast sandwich. There is no way I'll be able to eat all of it, so would you like half?"

"Are you serious?" The Julia Roberts of O'Hare probably shouldn't be so incredulous at kindness.

I sized up the man: late 40s, black suit, red tie, wedding ring, iPhone, and a slightly tanned look suggesting he hadn't spent all of this gray November in pasty-making Illinois.

Not that I knew what signs to look for, but he didn't seem like the type to buy a $10 sandwich, hide drugs in half of it, and then hope he sat near a pretty young woman who'd also boarded early so he could lure her with talk of locally-sourced bacon.

I took the sandwich. Of course I did.

29D and I talked foodie details {just the right crunchiness to the bread, the egg wasn't overwhelming, etc.} until the man in 29E sat down, and the two of them discussed a shared love of fishing musky. At that point, my contribution to the conversation was, "I don't like fish" and "In my high school athletic conference, there was a team called the Muskies."

About five minutes into the flight, the baby behind me, who had screamed through the entire take-off, suddenly stopped crying, coughed—and threw up. We're talking projectile, and I realized from the furious scrubbing of the back and side of my chair that if I'd been just a little more inclined to the left—if I'd still been in that conversation about bait and reels—that baby's impressive arc of puke would've hit me.

Life is messy, isn't it?

Good moments get smashed together with bad moments.

A day can start out so well and end so sadly—and vice versa.

You can do everything right and still not have things work out.

Or you can break the rules and have it all work out.

Sometimes, all you can do is say: I'm glad I'm here, full of good food and not covered in puke.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. :-) Catching up on your blog just made my day better.



Related Posts with Thumbnails