Choosing Your Battles – Fight Or Flight?

It began as minor irritation; an inconvenience, then a request to comply somehow grew into a requirement to conform and over time developed into intense frustration. Frustration when expressed, even slightly, in a non-threatening way, at best becomes a joke at dinner parties, one of your many “endearing qualities” accepted by friends and family. At worst, it gives rise to the universally understood term “going postal.”  You know, bizarre, out-of-control behavior and outbursts by an otherwise reasonable person after long-term exposure to a combination of the irrational, illogical, idiotic, ridiculous and arbitrary. (rules, beliefs, ideas)

I am no stranger to the experience of having my dignity stomped, able to do nothing but roll my eyes and grumble under my breath, sometimes above my breath, while flying or trying to fly. I’ve been molested, radiated, humiliated, frustrated, irritated, aggravated, crammed, slammed, jammed and corralled between the secure, yet retractable, nylon barriers of craziness!

When I travel alone, I grit my teeth, because really, who’s gonna listen to a stranger complain? When I travel with my family, if things start to get ridiculous, they pretend they’re not with me because I sometimes mouth off when I’m stopped in my bare feet by a woman who could just as easily be a linebacker as a TSA agent, and told she needs to pat me where the yellow light is illuminated on the obviously faulty equipment that shows I must have something metal in my panties. Or like when my husband and I were waiting for our son to come through security, and were watching a man being patted down like a criminal in front of his two small children, I made a comment about rules for the sake of rules and how embarrassed that man was and that his little kids didn’t understand what was happening to their daddy. A blue-gloved agent moved toward us and my husband stepped away from me. Yeah, he just left me to stand there with my comment and the agent glaring over at me. I’m not a trouble maker, really I’m not. I was talking to my husband. At least I was until he stepped to a safe distance.

I travel a fair amount, but I’m not what you would consider a frequent flyer. I maintain enough frequent flyer miles to get as many free magazine subscriptions as I can stand. That’s it. No first class round-trip tickets to paradise for me. That’s okay. Every single time I fly, I say to myself, “never again.” How I wish I could afford jet fuel, a pilot, insurance, fees, taxes, tolls, maintenance, a hangar.

Oh, and a plane.

Why do we accept not being treated as paying customers who have scraped together enough money for airfare and crammed as much as we can into a carry-on to avoid the extra $25 baggage fee. Why do we accept being treated like suspects in an episode of CSI? Because we are not customers; even though the flight attendants tell us they know we have a choice when we fly, we really don’t. People select the least expensive fare for flights with the fewest connections, always. You get what you get, always. Airlines are in financial distress not so much because of the cost of doing business, but because they disregard the most important part of their business, the customer. Most of whom don’t expect to be treated better than any other ordinary, honest, law-abiding citizens just trying to get from one place to another. Diamond, platinum, gold, status is really not necessary. Treat all customers like we are your priority. Hmmmmm.

Asked and answered.

Recently I signed up for a program with strict membership standards being offered to travelers who meet certain requirements and who have an extra $100 for the application fee. Most anyone could qualify for this program, as long as they aren’t a liar, or a criminal. I didn’t make that up; those are two of the requirements. If you’re interested, it takes some effort, and like I said, a hundred dollars.

Visit www.globalentry.gov to find out more.

Here’s what I know.

On my recent trip to Denver, I stood in the nylon corral for “priority” travelers. The one agent checking IDs and boarding passes alternates between the “priority” traveler line and the “general public” line. What a joke. The “priority” line is shorter, so, there is somewhat less of a wait time to get to the front of the line, but this is not much of an advantage when there is only one agent checking everyone’s ID. There are two agents sitting on the other side of security to make sure no one just walks through without being screened. Really? Two agents? Sitting? That’s where that linebacker needs to be. Anyway, I had to tell the agent to scan the bar code on my boarding pass so I could access the TSA Pre security screening lane because she just stared at me like, “you’re not a priority passenger, why are you in their line?”

I guess she didn’t know about the program.

I stepped into the screening area, did NOT have to remove my flip-flops, place my quart sized bag of miniature toiletries into an unsanitary plastic tub or remove my laptop from my luggage. It was a little slice of happiness. I placed my luggage on the conveyor belt and the screening agents were friendly, courteous, and downright pleasant to me. I wasn’t touched.

A slice of happiness AND a side of no molestia! Thank you very much.

My husband said he wished he had a camera to capture the big ol smile on my face as I came through security; which I assure you, hasn’t happened since the last millennium. This “service” isn’t available at all security screening areas. Traveling home from Denver, I had to wait in the herd of non-priority commoners. TSA Pre lines aren’t yet available at all airports. I did have to remove my flip-flops and they did confiscate the 4oz container of moisturizer I had to purchase while in Denver. It is very dry there. Hydrate or die, right? Anyway, there was a woman wearing a bedazzled hat in line ahead of me. She wasn’t required to remove her hat.

She could have had anything under that hat!

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