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In the Moment: Funny, Frustrating and Often Fastidious Instants in Flight

I love the airport. Okay, maybe not all aspects of it; after all, I am writing this on the tail end of a weather-related, delayed travel day. There are, however, some joyful nuggets I enjoy that make some of the challenging airport times well worth it.

At my hometown airport, friends, family and loved ones can wait just outside of the security area to meet passengers. On the way to my car, I look forward to walking through that area to catch a glimpse of a toddler running toward his parent who has just returned home; the reunion of what I assume is a young dating couple; or the visit of some long-lost relative that has the entire clan holding up welcome signs.

The bonus of airport time is the people and parent watching, especially as they ZagZig through a busy travel day. Just like a family, all airport “guests” handle travel events differently. After our flight got delayed for the third time today, the couple sitting behind my seat at the gate let everyone know about the state of misery this delay caused them.

I also saw a woman at the gate area walking around, almost doing laps, and she had a smile on her face the entire time. When we finally boarded the plane she was in front of me in line, and I told her it was nice to see someone so happy. After we got to chit chat a bit, she also told me I did not look like I could have a 20-plus year old child. Her energy was definitely infectious.

I also saw a mom pushing a toddler in a stroller with one hand, while pulling luggage with another; all the while monitoring the boy behind her who might have been five years old pulling luggage that was nearly his size. I saw a dad strapping a toddler in a stroller with one hand, while holding an infant in another as he eyed the security conveyor belt for their other items.

During the next leg of the flight, while waiting at the gate, a young girl screamed and stomped her feet. Very few people looked up at her. If they were thinking anything like I was, we were jealous that at her age it was socially acceptable to have a fit at the third announcement of a flight delay. We secretly thought, you go girl, thanks for letting that out.

Over the years with business travel, I have seen a lot of funny, frustrating and often fastidious travel moment and behaviors. My most memorable moment came as I peacefully sat on the plane, minding my own business (as much as one can from a middle seat). As we reached the proper altitude and all was calm, I suddenly got sprayed with a liquid that dripped from the back of my head down my back.

After the initial shock, it hit me, the smell of baby formula. My guess is that with the air pressure, the dad shaking the bottle caused the top to pop and shower me like champagne. I quickly remembered why, when the kids were younger, I should have followed through on my idea to invent Scotch-Guard fabric business clothes to wipe away the smelly forumula spit up.

In this case the dad peeped over the top of the seat, profusely apologized and offered to pay my dry cleaning bill. I told him that luckily I was on my way home and this ZagZig moment was on me. It was the one night that I was glad I did not have family or friends meeting me outside the security gate; they would have gone in for the hug, halted and said, “Ooooh, you need a shower, you smell like rotten milk.

Let me be clear, I have my moments when travel annoys me. I have my own travel warrior badges, sleeping in airports a few times, clamoring for coveted power outlets on long delays and more. I am not discounting that sometimes, between weather and mechanical delays, I get a little travel angst at the gate.

As I write this on the late plane tonight, that will ultimately get me to my destination well after midnight, I picked up a copy of the SkyMall magazine with the Late, Late Show’s James Corden on the cover. He is one of my favorites. If you have not seen at least one of his “Carpool Karaoke” skits, I highly recommend catching one on YouTube. I guarantee it will make you smile.

Corden’s quote in the article is a good reminder for us all when we take ourselves too seriously. “Everything behind you is gone, everything in front of you is unknown. So, if you can, try to just be the best version of yourself at all times…if you’re just trying your best the moment that you are in, your life will be utter fulfillment.”

When life ZagZigs, like my travel itinerary did today, let me be the best I can in the moment, like my smiling friend I mentioned earlier. And if that does not work, let me find that screaming munchkin and channel it all through her.

Kori Reed is the author of ZagZig Parenting: (Mis)Adventures of a Career-Driven Mom and a Stay-at-Home Dad. ZagZig is a collection of vulnerable, comical vignettes about contemporary family written by Kori, working mom of four children, with commentary from her husband Mike.

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