Airports are unsuspectingly notorious for teaching us lessons.
Such as how to speedwalk through an airport rolling luggage with bum wheels…
How to shoehorn 2 extra pairs of shoes into an already stuffed suitcase…
And how to haggle your way out of paying $60 for that allegedly over-stuffed suitcase now that it weighs 51 lbs.
But I never imagined I would be able to stash away a few life tips that came my way from a flight delay, courtesy of Ft. Lauderdale Airport Terminal 4.
Tip #1: We Are All Perfectly Imperfect
For as long as I can remember I’ve been a germaphobe.
And I finally traced its origins - back to my childhood, courtesy of my mother.
For years my mother ran her own residential and commercial cleaning business, so you can imagine the standard of clean I was subjected to growing up.
What? You’ve never actually seen an airborne crystalized gleaming sparkle except when you watched I Dream of Genie? Well, they were a common sighting in our house.
As a child when I came in from playing outside, I would hit the fridge for a glass of Kool-Aid and hear, “ah-ah-ah!...wash those mitts first!"
Fast forward 20 years and I’d become the lady in the public restroom stall, flinging her leg up 3 feet just to foot-flush the toilet. This gets tricky with skirts and push button toilets, but yes, I’ve mastered those too.
If you’re ever lucky enough to be in a public restroom with me you’ll also see me grabbing extra hand towels to wrap around the door handle so I can exit germ-free.
You may also catch me whipping out antibacterial wipes before I open a bottle of water much less eat something by hand. (Disclaimer: as a self-respecting considerate germaphobe I do feel obligated to mention hand sanitizer kills less germs than wipes so choose wisely.)
Over the years I’ve taken great pains to make all my germaphobic behaviors look normal gestures.
But as I sat back down without making skin contact in that squeaky bubblegum-bottomed lopsided airport chair, I realized, there is no reason to hide who I really am.
People don’t care that I open convenience store doors with my wrist, or that I hold my breath and run two aisles away when someone sneezes within 3 feet of me (an MIT sneeze study found germs can travel 200 feet).
Nah, no one cares!
As of today, I am no longer hiding my germaphobia.
I will de-germ myself openly with pride.
Now, can someone please make me a green smoothie and wear a clean pair of FDA-approved food grade gloves first?
Tip #2: NASA Can Make You Younger
Tuesday of last week was my birthday.
Wait, hold your confetti —
Because I didn’t actually get a year older.
I got younger.
Now, I’m not one of those people who say they’re 26 when they’re really 58 … that’s not what I mean.
What I’m saying is I digressed in age and here’s how NASA helped me pull this off —
As I was waiting impatiently (more on that in a minute) for an announcement from the airline, I looked around and noticed about 50 or so other people waiting too.
Many appeared to be vacationing families with children.
The children weren’t impatient and they weren’t huffing and puffing.
Know what they were doing?
Tag, patty-cake, and kick your sister while dad’s not looking.
You know, good clean kid fun.
And it reminded me about an article I read recently about how 5 year olds think at a genius level.
The article was about how NASA had administered a test to 1,600 children between 4 and 5 years old, and 98% of them scored at a “creative genius” level.
When the same children turned 10 years old, only 30% of them scored at the same level.
And by age 15, that number had sunk to 12%.
Can you guess how the adults scored?
A whopping 2%. Ouch!
Now, while there are a gazillion conclusions we can draw, here’s the way I see it:
If I revive my inner 5-year-old, I’ll regain my creative genius. Simple.
And if it’s true that you’re as young as you feel, then not only can we all awaken our inner creative genius but we can feel free and child-like while doing it.
Now, I am still very much the mature, demure professional I need to be when the time calls for it.
But in my spare time I’m dunking Oreos, playing on my PlayStation, or cruising through my living room on my hoverboard that has the really cool blinky lights on the front.
Tip #3: Reward Your Patience
It’s advice I give my son. It’s something I claim to have.
But every now and then when the rubber airplane tires hit the tarmac I see evidence that maaayyybe I’m a bit impatient.
About 4 minutes into the flight delay I started eyeballing the time on my phone and forcibly exhaling out loud repeatedly until I annoyed myself.
I stood up, I paced, shot a little side-eye to the airline folks behind the counter…
I was trying everything to control my inner basket-case.
For an excruciating 10 minutes.
Then I caught myself —
Exhaling out loud was only going to make this delay feel like a painful commercial break interrupting my favorite show, especially without a bucket of honey-BBQ wings … ice cream cake … some semblance of nutritious comfort food to ease my woes.
So I sat back down, kicked off my 80’s playlist with Hall & Oates, opened a crossword app on my phone and took a deep breath.
Appreciating the trip I had just taken…
Appreciating that I have the freedom to travel...
Appreciating that my super sleuthing skills just paid off big-time with 5 semi-melted peanut M&Ms in the corner of my handbag…
And smiling at the airline folks behind the counter even though they returned my smile for a revengeful dose of side-eye.
I accepting this delay for what it was — an opportunity to be patient.
Before I knew it, I was lugging my 51-lb suitcase upstairs to my room, washing my hands for 4 minutes straight, changing into my footed zip-up pajamas, and hopping into bed with a big bowl of ice cream cake.
It’s why children giggle so much… because they don’t take themselves seriously, and they see the world around them as a grab-bag of opportunity to marvel at the wonders adults have grown accustomed to overlooking.
Take moments to laugh out loud… lay in the grass and look up at the stars… and keep on dunking your Oreos.
Just don’t forget your antibacterial hand wipes.