“Now, I don’t want to hear anything on the news this evening about you getting into a tussle with the flight attendants on your way home and getting hauled off the airplane!” My cousin’s husband warned me as I thanked them for their hospitality during my visit.
No, no that wasn’t my pattern of behavior. As someone raised in the “children are to be seen and not heard” era, and then educated in the Catholic school system, I was a quiet and obedient child who had no idea what my “rights” were and couldn’t have been more surprised as an adult to learn that anyone had the faintest interest in what I thought or felt about anything.
My first airplane trip was an afternoon outing with a few girls in my junior year of high school and our Chaplin, to Deerfield Village in Michigan. Going into my senior year of high school, my father decided that our little family along with our two grandmothers would take a six week trip to Europe. Back then traveling was an occasion for dressing in our Sunday best, and behaving in a manner which reflected well on our parents.
As a young adult I traveled with friends here and there and it was always fun, adventuresome and a privilege. It was not until September 11, 2001 that not only did our whole country change from the terrible experience with the terrorists, but the business of flying from point A to point B was no longer so enjoyable. It was just a matter of getting where one wanted to go and back in the shortest amount of time and putting up with long delays in lines, TSA measures, and often being patted down because there was a slightly baggy area around the knees or shoulders. For the last three or four years I’ve worn my snuggest tops and pants and still got called over to get my share of the day’s pats. I always found this aggravating and I didn’t think I could wear my clothes any tighter and still move around.
This year I have invested the time and money in getting a Known Traveler Number and used it for the first time this month and I was still stopped so the TSA person could have a closer look at what was in my carry-on bag. First she told me she had to open the bag and I said, fine. Then she asked me if there was anything in the bag that might hurt her, and I said, “There is a big chocolate bunny,…” a travel journal, a book of short stories, my SLR camera in it’s case, in which there was also an apple, a small piece of foil wrapped chocolate and a container of costume jewelry. So what caused the alarm, I have no idea. She never said, just rifled around a bit, re-zipped the bag and sent me off to find my gate of departure. So, it is getting a little better, but is not perfect and I seriously doubt it can ever be as much fun as it was when I was a younger woman.
Now it seems like road rage has spilled over into other avenues of 21st century life and the respect for ourselves and others that I was raised to abide by has evaporated into confrontational eruptions at the slightest provocations, or when an ego is easily bruised.
Has no one heard the words of Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta, when dealing with such difficult situations, “…there are many kinds of poverty.”