I recently returned from my visit to the great state of Alabama to see my friends, Paige and Steve. It was wonderful to get away from the rat race and relax. At the request of my friend, Amy, who is itching for one of my Top Fives, I came up with a list after my trip. I traveled via Southwest to Birmingham and had a few realizations. So, here it goes....in no particular order....my Top Five Realizations from my Recent Air Travel...
5. If you want to study the human race, hang out at the airport - Sadly since security is at a high level 24/7, you can't wander to all the departing gates unless you have a golden ticket. But, even if you aren't traveling, just hang out at the airport baggage claim, or pre-security check-in area, or the accessible restaurants. I find people watching fascinating and every variation of human being can be observed there.
4. Security is so tight, I feel extremely confident there are no bombs (or snakes) on my plane - This was my first flying experience since the TSA No Liquid Zone was launched. I was cautious to check any baggage that included non-compliant liquid and headed to the security check in. I find it comical. I remove my shoes and walk through the gated area to the body scanner as I place all my carry-on belongings through the x-ray conveyer belt. I immediately beep (due to a hip joint replacment) and am escorted to what I call the "terrorist security center." From there I'm patted down, wanded, and asked to remove other items, such as my scary belt, so they can x-ray it and confirm it's merely to hold my pants up and not to store explosive material. Then once I'm cleared, I proceed to the post security area to redress myself. God Bless America.
3. Nobody can live without a laptop, cell phone, or iPod - Because I'm so electronically enabled during my non-vacation life, I choose to disengage from the madness to enjoy my vacation. But, I'd guess 90% of travelers have a laptop going, are on their cell phone, or listening to an iPod. It's quite an interesting view of the 21st century. Flying 20 years ago was so much different. Intermingled among the tech-o-philes are those of us (me included) enjoying a good old-fashioned book. Our Presidential candidates should lobby for a "One Laptop Per Adult" initiative....we all have them anyway.
2. Our economy isn't about to tank - I traveled on a Thursday and a Monday...traditionally non-peak travel days. Yet, the airport was packed..and not just with business travelers, but non-business travelers. I've been both and I can tell the difference. Air flight isn't cheap. (nor are all those previously-mentioned electronic gadgetry) I wouldn't believe everything you read in the media.
1. I feel the need to do a security review once I "board" my car now - Every time a flight takes off, the flight attendants review the procedures for emergencies...where to exit, how to attach the oxygen and life preserver equipment. It's somewhat omnious if you really pay attention. Yet, flying is so much safer than driving, per the statistics. Now I feel the urge to get in my car and say, "Welcome aboard today's drive in your Malibu...let's review the safety procedures..make sure all belts are fastened and doors locked. If your gas gauge gets close to "E", pull into the nearest gas station..."
BONUS Realization - There is a God - I didn't need to fly to realize this...I know this more intimately than I can articulate. But last Thursday when I departed, it was a cloudy, dreary day. One of my favorite parts of flying is the take off. I do not like rollercoasters, but the wheeeee feeling I get from a plane taking off is energizing. I suppose I feel safe in that sturdy metal tube. As we ascended and my stomach was all a flutter with excitement, we rose to an altitude above the clouds. And, as we soared on top of the fluffy white puffs, the sun was bright as ever. How can anyone rise to that level of the universe and not believe there is a Creator behind all this, and not just some big bang? It was breathtaking.
Thank you for flying.