by syaffolee

A Ramble About Traveling

Getting up at 3:30 AM to catch a morning flight is not my idea of a good time. Perhaps this will give me incentive to plan my next bout of traveling a bit more carefully, but knowing myself, I’ll probably end up doing things at the last minute yet again when others prod me with reminders. At any rate, I was tired and somewhat grumpy when the old lady (who could have been anyone’s grandmother, really, except for the rather ferocious frown on her face) examining IDs and boarding passes pulled aside a young family (the mother, father, and two little kids could have been just about any family) who had presented passports as their IDs. And then she marked my boarding pass with a “P” and a squiggle. Oh, great.

All right, so all that happened was that I got a black wand waved around me, but I hated it. It’s not that I’m hiding anything because I’m not. I hate it because for one fleeing moment, whenever a security person marks something on my boarding pass or searches my bag or examines my person, I have this fear that they’d decide that they don’t like how I look like regardless of whether or not they found something and then just pull me out without me having any say in anything. Some people like how this makes them feel safe. It makes me feel helpless. Because some people are so afraid and paranoid about something bad happening, others have taken the license to make everyone afraid. You call this a precaution for keeping people safe? I call it playing right into the trap that they set in the first place.

I don’t know what happened to the young family, although I doubt they found anything besides books, clothes, and toys. (But I have to say, even toys can make paranoid people break out in hives. I recently saw a news story about a store manager who called the cops on a father who was showing his son a toy gun–which was an item being sold at the store.) Anyway, I had to transfer at BWI–which, by the way, was extremely painless compared to the last time I was there–and I swear, the plane I took was half filled with preboarders. That is, parents with kids under five. A flight attendant made some crack about how the rest of us should get busy so that the next holiday season, we’d also be able to preboard. I’m of the mind that parents should never take kids under the age of ten on board airplanes unless the kids are extremely well behaved, but what do I know? My parents took me all around Europe and Asia before I turned one and they told me that I slept through it all. Or maybe they were just being nice and maybe I was actually one of those annoying howlers.

I managed to sleep through the landing to MHT. (How? You may ask. Well, I’ve slept through much louder things. And I was really tired.) The baggage claim area was half filled with as yet unclaimed luggage–due to the U.S. Airways fiasco–and I found out that I had to wait four hours for the bus to take me up north. With that kind of schedule, I might as well have driven to the airport and left my car at the long term parking lot for my return regardless of the winter weather. So I spent the time waiting by doing something inane–reading the U.S. News special edition called Secrets of the Da Vinci Code.

Okay, so I call a lot of things inane or silly. But that doesn’t mean that I think certain magazines and movies and popular novels are bad. It only means that I’ve been hanging around academics and people who think they know everything too much. I’m sure their blather about what consititutes as something good to do during their spare time has somewhat brainwashed me. (And I wonder, what really is the extent of their influence on me? I tell myself that I don’t believe everything that comes out of a PhD’s mouth–especially when it’s opinion–but how much of my musings are a parrot of theirs? How much have I taken up as true and sound without bothering to second guess if it really is so?) At any rate, I feel it is better to read something inane if you’re waiting in an airport terminal during the holidays. Reading a textbook instead seems, well, as trying too hard. Or at least trying to show off–something I can’t stand in myself or others.

So now I find myself back. It’s somewhat hard to guage one’s own mood. I tried very hard not to think about it too much the past week and a half. Vacation was more like a pause, a halt to everything. It’s still somewhat paused although I finally have looked at the inboxes of my various e-mail accounts. I still have a few days to get myself in gear, but I know one thing’s for certain. It’ll be different from the one I was in last term.