Observations from the Road: The “How to Lose Your Vacation Zen and Regain Your Perspective (All in 30 Minutes)” Edition

WWII Vets

WWII Veterans greeted at Dulles Airport by an appreciative welcoming crew

You know you travel a great deal when your first day back from vacation includes leaving on a 3-day trip to Denver. That’s the situation I found myself in yesterday.

I was determined to keep my vacation Zen (and motivation to exercise – but that’s another post) as I returned to work. Yet the travel gods were conspiring against me.

Southwest Airlines decided to reset the preferences in their customers’ accounts a few weeks ago.  The result:  things like Known Traveler Numbers (which put you into TSA Pre-Check) and other preferences which get you into the “A” check-in group (and assured of an aisle seat) were lost.  In setting up this trip, we didn’t realize those weren’t in place until it was too late.

Now you may be thinking, “David.  Suck it up.  Lots of folks go through the regular security lines.”  That’s true.  But if you do it 2-4 times a week, the thrill of taking off your shoes and belt, pulling out your laptop, and getting reprimanded because you don’t have your 3-oz. bottles in a little separate packet, among other things, gets old quickly.  All of that happened yesterday.  Plus, I am carrying a jar of Vaseline to help with the healing of some minor surgery on my leg…and that always gets pulled out in the regular line.  (Candice and I have decided that Vaseline is the duct tape of medicine.  The past three doctors I’ve seen have told me to “put some Vaseline on XXX and slap a band-aid on it.  Who knew?!)

So I was already losing my vacation Zen when I arrived at the gate and realized I had an hour before boarding.  To help recapture it, I decided for a quick 15-minute shoulder massage.  Of course, I would have the masseuse who would work me over hard AND spend the entire 15-minutes telling me how terrible her niece had been to her family during a recent wedding.  To say I came out of that without regaining my Zen would be an understatement.

Then I was snapped back into remembering what’s important.

Our plane arrived at the gate – and at the same time an “Honor Guard” crew joined those of us waiting to board to welcome a group of about 20 WWII veterans who had flown to Washington to see the WWII memorial.  This happens quite a bit in DC airports, but I really needed to see it yesterday.  We stood and cheered as these men – many in wheelchairs, and all about my father’s age of 90 or more – came off the plane.  There were smiles and tears all around.

And all of a sudden, the TSA pre-check, the Vaseline pat down, the grouchy masseuse – they were all forgotten.

These men were all willing to give the ultimate sacrifice.  They came from every class and all walks of life.  They set aside differences and prejudices to work, live, laugh, cry – and for many of them die – together.

Vets at Dulles

Another WWII Vet exits the plan to meet a welcoming “Ground Crew”

Thank you, each and every one.

More to come…

DJB

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