• One thing I noticed flying this weekend: things are a mess.

    Checking your bags takes longer.

    Throwing out all those liquids takes longer.

    Getting to your gate takes longer.

    Everything takes longer and is more of a pain.

    But if you think Americans are whining, think again. Most I encountered were remarkably understanding and patient. Some even took all the inconveniences in good humor.

    One guy in Newark joked as a TSA representative was taking away his mouthwash that, "The flight crew will be sorry!"

    Another woman reminded her husband as she was throwing away most of her makeup, "Well, you said you love me as I am, right honey?"

    The guy just laughed. Most just laughed.

    There was an impatient flier or two, to be sure. But most figured they were all in the same boat — or airplane — and this is what everyone had to do. So they did it.

    It kind of reminded me of the way people pitch together during hurricanes or snowstorms. Everyone looking out for each other, regardless of race or income, age or education. All on the same line, dealing with the same crisis, putting up with the same little indignities. Kind of like after 9/11, when we took a look at what we lost and held on dearly to what we had.

    Horrible stuff can do that. Avoiding horrible stuff can do that too.

    You learn that the little things you store in a carry-on bag don't mean nearly as much as the loved one's hand you store in your own hand.

    After all, one is just a bag. The other is your whole life.

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