As a professional speaker, I travel constantly. That means that I go through airport security all the time and, as a consequence, am witness to myriad methods of successfully and not-so-successfully navigating the process. This microcosm of activity is a terrific example of how being disorganized generates tremendous and unnecessary stress.
The Cattle Call
We travelers converge on airports from points distant. The majority of us are either returning home or leaving home but before we can truly begin that journey, we all must pass through the daunting airport security checkpoints. For those of you who haven’t traveled by air in the last … say … thirty years, here’s a brief run down:
- We line up single-file (kinda) in a zig-zagging line similar to attending an opening of a new museum exhibit, only with luggage.
- In addition to keeping ourselves and our carry-ons moving forward, we just extract our photo IDs and make our boarding passes available.
- Once the TSA agent has verified (in cursory fashion) that our picture IDs and boarding passes have the same name on them and we somewhat resemble the picture proffered, we queue up for the screening process. It is here that the fun truly begins.
- We must now extract from our luggage and place into a plastic bin the following: properly packed toiletries (read: clear Ziploc bag), shoes, coins, cell phones, most jewelry, belts, and laptop computers (which must be placed into a separate bin).
- The remainder of our luggage must also be placed on the conveyor belt.
- With our pants sagging and our unshod feet cooling, we must marshal our plastic bins and our carry-ons up to the x-ray machine before passing through the adjacent scanner ourselves.
- Having successfully made it through the scanner (don’t ask what happens if you fail here), we must now collect and re-insert all bin items into our luggage while getting on our belts, shoes, coats, etc. Oh, and we have about two square feet in which to accomplish this final task.
Finally, we are free to make our way to our gate to board the plane that will take us far, far away from the memory of this most recent security checkpoint experience.