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Holiday Hassle

My bag got searched by security. No, no, nothing bad. It got flagged as suspicious because of the enormous bag of peanut m&m's inside. Apparently that quantity of hard candy and legume looks bizarre through an X-ray machine (also, as learned on a previous trip, a wheel of semi-hard cheese with a rind looks like explosives... anyway, I digress). I travel a lot. I’m used to the hustle of airports. And I have been stopped by security more than a few times, though never because of any actual cause for alarm. A wine key, cheese, a pocket knife on my keyring, peanut butter, a forgotten water bottle... never a big deal. But, I swear, every time I get stopped, my heart drops into my shoes and I instantly start sweating like I’m about to be arrested. I fidget and chew on my lip and probably look SO incredibly guilty. Usually, I can get myself calmed down by the time they get my bag off the conveyor belt and over to the counter to be examined, but wow does my anxiety want to win that battle every single time. It’s incredibly frustrating. The reason I want to bring this up now though is because it is the holiday season. Airports are crowded, people are stressed out and rushing, and security staff members are under a ton of pressure. I want you to remember to breathe. Dress in layers you can easily take off if you get overheated. Keep your medication, or gum, or inhaler, or essential oils, or whatever you might need in a pocket of your bag that’s easily accessible. Make yourself a calming playlist to listen to while traveling. Remind yourself that you will get through security, you will make you flight (and even if you miss it, it may ruin your day but it won’t be the end of the world) and you will get to go back home to the safety and comfort of your own room eventually. Remind yourself that the holidays are for love and kindness and compassion, even if they are entirely shrouded in stress and pressure. And - most of all - I want to encourage you to be kind to the person standing next to you. My bag got stopped by security because of m&m’s. Stupid. Silly. Vaguely annoying. But it was enough to push me dangerously close to a panic attack. What saved me was the man in front of me, whose bag also got flagged. He snorted when he saw his bag tumble down the alternate conveyer belt, then looked at me when mine got stopped. “Definitely forgot about my flask in there,” he laughed. “I blame my damn relatives.” I chuckled with him, though mostly distracted from what he was saying by my rising blood pressure. “What do you have stowed away?” he asked. Frowning intensely, I told him I guessed it was the family-sized m&m’s. I don’t know if it was how I replied, or just what I said, but the guy full-on belly laughed. “You’ve got one small bag with you and it’s half full of m&m’s? Seriously?” I cracked a smile, chest tightening with laughter instead of anxiousness, the lunacy of the situation finally hitting me. He was right. All I was taking on my flight was a purse, and it was quite literally half full of m&m’s. “No wonder you got flagged,” he joked. “That’s ridiculous!” Once security was done with his bag, he smiled and waved goodbye to me. I didn’t say anything aloud as he left, but mentally I thanked him for his small - unknowing - act of heroism. Quite unintentionally he had kept me from having a panic attack. Moral of the story, y’all? We’re all human. We’re all stressed and grumpy and dealing with crap. So, if you are able, if you can... try to stay positive. Keep your chin up. Laugh something off instead of letting it get to you. Be kind. You may very well save the sanity of the person standing next to you.

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