guest post: insecurity

21 Jan

Interwebers, today’s final guest post comes to you from my good friend Ashley, a Seattle native currently living in the (semi) sticks of Maryland with her husband who makes an awesome bracciole and her daughter who makes a lot of noise. She throws a hell of a dinner party with tasteful tablescapes that actually enable you to have a conversation with your fellow dinner companions (TAKE NOTE SANDRA F-ING LEE.) and inordinate amounts of wine. And now you know why we’re friends. You can read more of Ashley at This Hofmann Life.


Molly said that I had to write about travel for this post. To me, that’s like being told to write about a gynecological exam—both topics conjure images of dread, hassle, rushing, waiting, taking time away from work, physical discomfort, and a rather invasive exam for potentially deadly material.

Oh, sure. Some people travel to exotic locations, needing to pack just a camera, a passport, and a smile. These are the people who can easily look pretty with less than 3 ounces of liquid for the next 8 weeks, have no trouble finding overhead storage space on a plane, and get bumped to first class because they seem so damn likeable.

The rest of us? Our flights coincide with winter storms, mechanical difficulties, liquor shortages on the plane, flight crew strikes, security lapses, and, my #1 cause of delays—thunderstorms.

In the past year, I’ve added to this jolly mix an almost-one-year-old child. Imagine, if you will, standing in an excruciatingly long security line at the airport as your 26-pound offspring declares (by screaming) that she wants to be held, not strapped into a stroller. Next, after the sharp-eyed and keenly observant TSA agent thoroughly inspects your I.D. and boarding pass in less than .0034 seconds, an equally clever and no less efficient TSA agent instructs you to get into the longest, slowest-moving line behind first-time flyers who don’t realize that you must remove your shoes, you must take your laptop out of its bag, and you must hop on one foot while singing the hokey pokey backwards as you go through the metal detector.

As you approach the front of the line, the person in front of you inevitably takes the last bin. Always on the ball and eager to do their job well, a friendly TSA agent helpfully barks at you to put everything into a bin, the sheer absence of them notwithstanding. So you steal some from another line. Next, you have the delight of declaring 4 bottles of formula and 4 bottles of water, all of which must be opened by you as you, wearing no shoes and holding your driver’s license and boarding pass in your teeth (which your child excitedly tries to grab), hang onto your squirmy toddler-to-be and attempt to not spill so the always congenial TSA agent can swab the bottles for dangerous vapors. Somehow, the rancid smell of formula fails to set off hazardous-material alarms.

Meanwhile, said toddler-to-be decides now is a good time to begin screeching (not screaming, screeching) at the top of her impressive lungs, reaching pitches that can, unfortunately, be easily heard over the roar of a jet engine. (Believe me, I can prove this.) She ramps up the squirming as you try to put the now-deemed-safe bottles back into the diaper bag, and of course they no longer fit. You try to find your husband to see if he can hold your wiggly spawn for a moment, but you see him fighting the stroller as he tries to cram it through the x-ray machine.

Next, you try to put your child’s jacket back on her (it had to be removed in case you had strapped a bomb to her between the pink onesie and her polka-dot coat). As you do this, she catches sight of the bottles that couldn’t fit back into the diaper bag. And she wants one. Now.

Finally, your husband makes it through the metal detector, muttering profanity under his breath as little stress-beads of sweat pop out on his forehead.

Eventually, you get all packed up and prepare to find your gate. As you do, you look at the clock. And the one thing that motivated you, the one piece of hope to which you clung as you banished such thoughts as “traveling is not worth it,” the one thing that could make it all better—evaporates before your eyes. Getting through security took so long that you no longer have time to get a before-flight drink at the oh-so-inviting airport bar that beckons you, oh weary traveler.

Yes, travel can be glamorous and adventurous and exciting. But, lest we forget that we are idiotic nimrods at the mercy of security protocol, let us applaud that federal agency that makes travel worth the cost, that great equalizer of humanity that presupposes all of us as terrorists, that great creator of lines and missed flights, that beacon of over-the-top friendliness.

Transportation Security Administration, ye protectors of America, we salute you.


One Response to “guest post: insecurity”

  1. Felice January 21, 2011 at 12:51 AM #

    You go through all of this and then you find out your flight is delayed. I quite often traveled with all four of my daughters – sometimes alone – but it was easier then because we did not have all of these hoops to jump through. It isn’t easy traveling with a little one.

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