Airport Shinanigans

24 Sep

“This is fucking ridiculous!” I yelled to the lady at the United Airlines ticket counter.  I was pissed, and the whole damn international terminal at San Francisco airport was gonna know it.  I’m a staunch proponent of avoiding the exhibition of anger at all costs, especially when other people are being affected by it.  But that didn’t change the fact that my check-in luggage exceeded the 50 pound minimum.  It didn’t change the fact that I was given an ultimatum by the ticket lady: “Pay us $400 for the excess weight or figure out a way to put some of your shit in another bag.”  I was told to step aside and figure out my problem and then return to the ticket counter when I was ready. It just so happened that I had packed another duffle bag into my suitcase. So I lugged my two carry-on bags and my fat-ass overweight dumb-stupid suitcase over to the side and began shoving stuff into the duffle bag..  It was mostly picture books, board games, shoes and a gallon container of Bumble and Bumble coconut conditioner (Laugh all you want; the books and games were for my 5th grade kids and the conditioner is the only hair product in the world that properly manages my Jew-curls).  I lugged my suitcase back to the counter and threw onto the scale.  The digital screen began the reading: 25 pounds..35pounds…45.……………….65…67.  I blurted out rudely: it’s still not 50 pounds! As if it were somehow her fault that I hadn’t read the disclaimers about maximum baggage weight on my confirmation email.  She calmly shrugged her shoulders and told me to shut my face and keep figuring out a way to get my bag to under 50 pounds.  I was livid, and then I spotted it: I saw my own Fuck-Face Mr. Ego marching right through the gates of my sanity and declare itself the dictator.  I thought United Airlines were so stupid for making these rules.  They just want to do it to make money.  Fuck them! 

 

I went back to my suitcase.  I was sweating like crazy.  I felt as if I were a separate airport exhibit with people saying, “Hey everybody, come over here and look at this tool; he’s losing his mind while he sits by his suitcase frantically throwing his underwear and socks all over the place.”  After a third try, I came back to the scale: 25…35…45…55.  “It’s 5 pounds!” I pleaded to the lady.  I was of course, rejected.  That’s when I yelled, “This is fucking ridiculous!”  Well that didn’t accomplish anything.  So I went back to repacking.  I knew quite well why my bag was so heavy: it carried two massive notepads of lined chart paper that I bought in America to bring back to Thailand for teaching (Thailand gets an A+ grade for being awesome in most areas; however I was saddened by the fact that it’s impossible to find lined chart paper.).   I made the most sobering and difficult decision of the hour: the chart paper would have to go into the trash.  So I took it out and went back to the counter.  The scale read 45.  The ticket lady then strongly urged me that I could still make it work with the chart paper.  “Just try,” she pleaded.  “Don’t throw it all away.”  The scene became comical all of a sudden to me: here’s this lady, who’s got a million other customers to deal with, counseling me through my traumatic airport experience. 

 

But she was too late.  I’d fallen into an irreparable chasm of despair and denial.  “No,” I said somberly.  “There’s no way to make it work.  I’ll just throw the chart paper away.  It’s fine. I just want to get to my plane on time.”  She looked at her watch and then back at me.  “You have an hour,” she said annoyed.  I felt 5 years old, but at the same time comforted by this woman’s unflinching resolve to put my needs before her own.  There was a powerful scent of motherly tough-love in her aura.  Her body language was clearly telling me, “You’re not going to just give up, are you?  Not on my clock you’re not.  Or wait…oh I see, maybe you’re just a big floppy vagina without an ounce of faith and fortitude. Get yourself together, man!  Then she pointed at the zipper of my luggage and firmly said, “Open it.  Take a few pieces of clothing out.  Put the chart paper back in the bag.  Don’t worry.   Like I said, we’ll make it work.”  I followed her commands.  The scale The scale began to drop as I removed articles of clothing.  As I did so, I looked at the lady for direction — physically and emotionally.  “Now take that shirt out,” she said pointing at my clothes. 59 pounds.  “Now take a few more.  We’re almost there.”  I complied.  Scale read 53.  “Ok that’s good enough.”  We’ll take it.

 

I was so frazzled that I didn’t even have the wits about me to show my gratitude to my hero.  I was still disarmed and embattled from the nasty war that had just occurred between my self and my ego.  In the end I had won.  But not without losses: I left the ticket counter with a heavy burden of guilt for having acted like such a jerk toward her.

 

Now I’m on the airplane flying back to Thailand, and I deeply reflect on this experience with an attitude of “It’s all good.  What have I learned from it?”  And I did learn a lot, actually. 

 

I learned first and foremost how happy I am that I have years of consistent practice in various modes of meditation, which helps me see reality for what it is, not for what I think it ought to be.  Yes, there were a few minutes when I was dazzled by the hypnotic allure of my ego, which invited me to indulge in a raging anger-fest, which caused me to be a dick to other people.  Good! I’m glad it happened.  And now I’ll use that experience as fuel to live a happier life.  I’ll do my best to see all circumstances for what they are without letting my negative emotions take over.  But if they do take over, then I’ll let them do their thing and then I’ll move on.  That’s the key for me right there – that’s why meditation is so awesome.  Meditation doesn’t help you never get angry or sad or fearful.  If you never got angry or sad or fearful, then there would be something seriously wrong with you…you’d be a freak of nature or something.  Rather, meditation helps you respond to and deal with your sadness, anger and fear from an objective point of view.  And it’s much easier to manage painful negative emotions when you see them objectively – without judgment or stupid conditional notions such as, “If only things were different, then I would be happier.”  Meditation helps solve the “So what do I do now?“ problem.  This is most important of all because it is our actions (what we do and say) that bring good old happy living to us and to others.  So go meditate, go travel on airplanes, and go say hi to strangers. 

 

And go get angry.  Go worry about bullshit all you want; go get sad and cry everyone a river.  But please don’t worry about your worrying.  And please don’t get sad about you getting sad.  And pretty please with a huge sweet fake cherry on top – don’t get angry at yourself for getting angry. For so many don’ts I have one special DO for you right here.  M-E-D-I-T-A-T-E.  Don’t know how?  Then stop bitching like I did when I was at the airport, and go figure it out! 

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