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When you re-enter the United States on a Monday evening after a short vacation, it is better for your blood pressure to assume the TSA will only have four people working despite having thirty+ empty booths available for more staff.
You will be less stressed if you don’t ponder why your government hasn’t prepared for flights the airport must have known were landing, which might have clued someone into the predictable length of the incredibly long line that will then form in front of those four agents.
You will also feel happier if you don’t ever look at your watch or think about how you will have to go through security again before getting to your connection, which you can’t miss if you want to sleep in your own bed that night.
This is especially true if it takes you almost two hours to move through that long line when there is so little staff squinting at the visa stamps in various passports looking for … something.
You must remember it isn’t the TSA that is your enemy in that moment but the people who hate you for simply being an American, the people who have attacked the country of your birth in the past for absolutely no fathomable reason, the people you are glad may be kept out by people who must be more competent than they appear to be.
It is the fault of terrorists, after all, that you will have to walk barefoot on dirty tiles to go through x-ray machines that will take pictures of your innards before you get onto your next airplane. It is their fault you cannot carry the rum you bought at duty free in your book bag but have to check it before you get on your next flight. It is their fault the four agents are scanning each face intently as the line slowly, slowly, slowly moves forward.
Finally, when you are once more in the Land of the Free and running as fast as you can to get to the right terminal, you will be hungry because your ticket was cheap, and the airline you chose did not even hand out pretzels as you crossed the ocean.
For your own sake, do not bemoan the fact that you could have gotten something hot to eat if you had only not been stuck so long in the long, long line.
Some things are beyond your control, and it does you no good to be angered by them.
However, you should still remember this.
If there is a sushi-to-go joint directly across from your gate where people are already boarding, and you load up on pre-packed tuna and salmon rolls because your stomach is beyond growling and now practically whimpering, do not give the woman behind the cash register that is about to close that forty dollars you have in your wallet until you do this one thing.
Open the lids to all that sushi, friend.
If you don’t, you’ll end up in your seat a few minutes later with your extra packages of soy sauce and a smug sense of satisfaction that you haven’t been beaten. Then when you finally get to pull down your tray table to get down to eating dinner, you will release a worse smell on the plane than even that one guy did when he de-shoed his sweaty feet across the aisle from you.
Everyone will turn in your direction, and there will be no telling them why you have three rolls of very spoiled fish making their air less pleasant. They have their own travel stories to tell, and you have not made them feel better.
If this happens to you–if you forget to do what you must always do when buying sushi in a airport, which is to smell it before you ever leave that to-go restaurant–please, please, please don’t get angry at anyone but the terrorists.
Even this is really their fault. Somehow.
Come to think of it, it was probably a plot to poison you.
After all, you’re almost hungry enough to still take a bite, but you don’t.
You won’t let them win.