I thank you, Nicole.

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“Something isn’t right,” I think as I type in BUR, the first three letters of my destination.

The voice in my head ramps up: “They won’t have your reservation, just watch. Something is wrong. You can feel it in your gut, just now.

You know I’m right. Something is wrong.”

I select Burbank from the list that also includes Burlingame and Burlington.

“You just unchecked that you don’t want to change your seats. You’re confused. You’re doing it wrong—that’s why I’m anxious, you aren’t paying attention! Get it together. Come on. I mean, really? Is this the best you can do?”

One bag. No Charge.

“Just because nothing has gone wrong doesn’t mean something isn’t about to. Just wait. You’ll see.”

The thermal printer in the base of the console whirs out half of a bag tag label, the machine beeps twice and an error message shows on the screen.

“See, I told you something would go wrong.”

 

A quote attributed to Martin Luther and Chinese Aphorism says,
“You cannot keep the birds of worry and fear from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”

That’s why I’m at the airport ridiculously early. It’s 7:18 a.m.  I can remain calm knowing that I have the resources and enough time to figure my way to the gate by 9:05.

 

At a recent Saturday service, we got to talking about our internalized operating systems. We talked about how most of us would like to apply some updates to some of those lines of code.

Me?
I’d like that anxious, critical voice in my head not to get on the mic as often.

 

I pivot my left foot back, creating an open arc with my body, opening myself to the space and future passengers at the bevy of Alaska Airline kiosks.

I raise my left hand in the air. Straight up. My right arm, down low towards the malfunctioning console.
I try to gain eye contact with anyone willing to be of help.

Nothing.

I escalate and semi-shout, “Is there help available here?”
Between me and where I’ll eventually drop my tagged luggage, a milk chocolate felt fedora indicates with a nod towards the front left corner of the sea of future passengers. I don’t see anyone approaching me as much as I see shifts in the herd. Someone is passing through the baggage and people towards me.

Suddenly a uniformed attendant appears at my elbow.

 

The  person who dyes their hair the colors of Sully’s fur (from Monsters, Inc.) wants you to notice it.
That’s the point.

Being seen for who we are is foundational to love.

So, I make a point to acknowledge whatever distinguishing characteristic I see.

“Oh, look, oh, you have really long nails”—or  “pointy hair” or “lots of tattoos”—I say to the checker at Trader Joe’s. Or the bank teller.
Or the person in the next seat on an airplane.

People like being seen.
And I like spreading a little love. (I also think of it as my job.)

 

I open my mouth to say something to the Alaska Airlines employee unsticking the printer.

But, the first two things, I notice, won’t work.

“Oh, look, you have really greasy hair” or “Oh, look, you are half my height” seems counter to my goal.

So I don’t say anything as the new luggage tag prints out.

I figure she doesn’t need to know that I usually say something to people.
It’ll be ok.

 

“Don’t forget your boarding pass,” she says as I pick it up from the now fixed machine.

“I thank you again,” I say and continue, “and, hey, what’s your name?”

“Nicole.”

“I thank you, Nicole.”

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