Travel Gratitude


Thank you! I was remiss in not thanking those of you who regularly comment on my Musings, but I also have to tell you how much I appreciated all your comments last week. Doesn’t it raise your spirits to know how many people either share your views or are able to rationally and politiely discuss areas of disagreement?

Almost every day in our lives provides opportunity for both
joy and pain. One complexity of the human experience is that while we are
easily aware of the pain, we often need to pay attention in order to find the

I am on a plane as I write this (Feb. 18, 2013), on a trip
that combines both elements. One part of this multi-legged voyage will provide
the thrill of meeting a sweet new granddaughter (here’s a photo with her

Siblings, for Musing

I will also have the opportunity to celebrate the joyous
holiday of Purim with quite a few of our children and grandchildren. I am
looking forward to a cousin’s wedding and the chance to celebrate with family
not seen often enough. Part of the trip was business-based and I was able to be
present when my husband spoke at a wonderful church in North Carolina where we
made lovely new friends.

On a less happy note, the trip includes a shiva
visit to my father, whose elder sister passed away last week as well as the difficulty
of recognizing his deteriorating physical conditions.  At times, my emotions tumble over each other,
making equilibrium an elusive phantom.

This is why I want to record the small blessings present in
today’s travel. My husband and I travel a great deal these days and, like anyone
who does so, we know that the days of elegant air voyages are long past. Yet,
within my solo travel, I found one blessing granted to me after another. For
starters, a kind friend in Charlotte, N.C. provided us with a car and driver so
that we didn’t need to navigate strange roads on our own. (The word ‘driver’
doesn’t convey the fascinating man who made sure we were comfortably taken to
wherever we needed to be.) When we arrived at the airport, despite my pleas
that my husband return to the hotel and start on his ever-growing task list, he
walked me in and dealt with check-in. Then we were off to what is usually the
most irritating part of travel these days – the dreaded security line. (If I
thought it actually kept us safe, my feelings about it would be quite different.)

The line snaked beyond the limits of the area to which it
was allocated. While I didn’t fear missing my flight, I did inwardly groan at
the anticipated wasted time, shuffling forward a few inches every few minutes.
At this point, my husband, who was still refusing my entreaties to be off,
excused himself and wandered away. Minutes later, he came back, motioning me to
follow him to the premium, and completely empty, security lane. Now, I was not
traveling first-class nor did I see any reason that I should be in the premium
lane, but lo and behold, by paying an extra few dollars I was now a preferred
person. This was definitely a case of being pound wise rather than penny
foolish. I sailed through so quickly that I wasn’t ready for my turn to place my
belongings on the conveyer belt. While I was cringing at delaying the people
behind me as I removed my computer from its case and took off my coat and
shoes, the next blessing appeared. Instead of the sometimes officious agents
who promote the TSA’s bad reputation, a lovely agent said, “Sweetie, you take
your time,” while she helped me juggle my things.

The next gift came in the form of a recalibrating security
machine that allowed three travelers, of which I was one, to go through the
less intrusive security portal. Since I distrust the newer machines, I was
elated at this turn of events. The trip continued with my preferred aisle seat,
a timely arrival for my luggage and me and, best of all, a pick-up by my
daughter from the airport along with food and drink she had prepared for me.

The kind behavior and competency I encountered on my trip
doesn’t make headlines. I wrote this piece for myself, so that while dealing
with the difficult and unpleasant, I remember to appreciate the good.

7 thoughts on “Travel Gratitude”

  1. You expressed the way I feel about air travel very well! Having just returned from a multi-legged flight and dealt with the inconveniences and indignities of security, it was nice to read about your ease through it all.
    I witnessed a stuffed-shirt TSA guy smugly tell a traveling girl that he could not move her to the front of the line, it wasn’t his job, she’d need to ask every one ahead of her for permission, blah, blah, blah. She was on the verge of tears, desperate to make her flight. When Mr. I-Have-A-Uniform-And-You-Don’t was out of sight, I took it on myself to give her permission to jump to the head of the line, reassuring her that we’d hold her place in case she got sent back. When she took off to the front of the line, everyone around broke loose with “Of course she should go ahead!” “What’s the matter with that TSA guy?” “What about customer service?” “That poor girl!” Never saw her again, prayed she made her flight, spent a few hours fuming over her treatment at the hands of someone who is supposed to be serving the public.

  2. To the Rabbi’s observations about cutting and piercing one’s flesh, one is tempted to question two common contemporary practices: piercing one’s earlobes and tattooing. Many women and today even some men seem to regard pierced earlobes as a routine fashion statement. But I find the practice abhorrent as willful damage to my body. Much more abhorrent is the barbaric practice of tattooing one’s skin, which necessitates a myriad invasive needle pricks to inject foreign substances of unknown effect, perhaps contaminated, beneath the skin to reside there until the end.
    The Rabbi today would seem to point out the severance of body and soul so prevalent in Western civilization. Better is the notion that our bodies and souls are but two sides of the same coin, and this coin belongs not to us, but to the Lord.
    As for Ms. Susan’s travels, thank you for sharing the photo of your precious grandchildren. One hears from several sources that the paranoid excesses of TSA since 9/11 may be easing up. Once we were flying to Europe and the TSA agent seized a small pair of rounded-edge kindergarten scissors I had brought along to trim facial hair. He stood there with my scissors awaiting my decision whether to abandon them or to keep them and check my bag into the hold. I had to bite my tongue real hard not to say: “You know, with those kindergarten scissors a terrorist could cut some mean paper dolls!”
    The TSA reminds me of the king in Sleeping Beauty. To save his daughter he burns all the spinning wheels in the kingdom. But he should be looking for the wicked witch. Israeli intelligence has learned to profile and identify the wicked witch with great success.

  3. What a good thing for all of us to remember. My Wednesday mornings are always a blessing when I open my email and find Thought tools and your always thought provoking message. Thank you

  4. Thank you Susan for such a lovely read. Amongst my Christian friends we call your ‘small’ experiences ‘breadcrumbs’ and we look to G-d to provide them each day for us. They can be as simple as seeing an unusual insect or animal on a walk, a joyous bird, bats flying close to you as the sun sets. I am into wildlife (of the safe kind!) and so that is how I am blessed. I am so glad that you have written down your blessings they are so helpful when, maybe, you are having a bad hair day. I thoroughly enjoy your musings, you really are gifted as a writer, it is a shame that we will never meet – I live in Cyprus! You come over as such a nice person. May our G-d bless you and keep you, make His face to shine upon you and give you His peace – especially when in the company of new babies :-)!

  5. Your musings are a lovely blessing to me. Gratitude has been the theme of our prayers and family time this week; your post was fitting. The more positives we focus on, and show our gratitude to God and his helpers, the less negativity we see in this sometimes cruel world. A lesson we are trying to instill in our son as I repeat to him often “gratitude will change your attitude”. Keep writing, it is a blessing to many including me. Prayers to your family from ours. Angela, Woodinville, WA

Comments are closed.

Shopping Cart