Truth be told, I wanted to wring her neck. She had gabbed on her cellphone the entire time in the security line and then seemed surprised when she was asked to take off her shoes. Of course she set off the detector when walking through. We all got to wait for an additional five minutes while she and the TSA agent tried to determine what else she shouldn’t be wearing.
Savvy business traveler that I like to think I am, I had long ago removed my shoes, taken my laptop from its case, and put all metal objects into a zipped pocket in my briefcase. I breezed through the metal detector. Since I had smartly sent my shoes on the belt first, I was able to put those on quickly while my bag and briefcase came down next. I slipped my laptop into its pocket and was on my way in record time.
Sitting at the gate waiting to board, I noticed the "slow poke" had finally arrived and taken a seat not far from me. She was already back on her cellphone, talking loudly enough that it was hard not to hear her conversation.
It sounded like she was talking to her daughter and recounting her experience going through security. I’m sure I rolled my eyes at some point. But then I heard her utter the words that appropriately put me in my place: "Well, I guess I’m not doing too badly considering I’ve never flown before."
Never flown before? She looked at least 50. How could she never have flown before?
All my inferences about her behavior were now placed in a new context, and I chastised myself for so quickly jumping to conclusions.
The bottom line that is worth remembering?
It is always someone’s first time. And until we know it's not, we are better served to treat others with patience and understanding, so that their first time is a positive experience, no matter what the situation.