My brother turned 60 this past weekend. So he had a party. He does this every 10 years, and of course I went to help celebrate another decade on the planet for the man who basically raised me.
It’s interesting to travel these days. All class, style, and excitement has been driven from what was at one time an adventure. Long gone are the days when people would dress well for traveling.
I flew Southwest Airlines from Los Angeles to Oakland airport. It’s called by many the air bus for a reason. It’s cheap, reliable, easy transportation. You can buy your tickets online, check in online, and the process of flying is now as easy as a few clicks and a short wait to grab a seat on a 727.
However, the process of getting from curb to gate is not fun. Luckily, I was flying up to Oakland just for a night, so I had a day bag with me. I was going from the warmth of Santa Monica to the chilly north, so I had a cashmere scarf on. But even having that little luggage was still annoying as I went through the Transportation Security Administration lines. The ritual undressing is not nearly as fun as it should be since it stops at shoes and belts. At times it seemed comical.
After having removed my shoes and belt and placed them in the bin to be reviewed by the TSA agent, I moved to get put in the Backscatter X-ray machine. But not so fast, that scarf was still around my neck. That was going to be problem. Evidently the machine that can see under my clothes to determine my religion would not be able to see through the tensile strength of cashmere. It would bring a stop to the operations of the whole security process. No, I must remove it, said the young man with a politeness that reminded me of a waiter asking me if I wanted tea or coffee after dinner.
Going through the TSA protocols did not make me feel any safer. I don’t live in great fear as many do. I tend to think that if bad people want to do bad things, they will no matter what. Perhaps it’s an occupational hazard of being a divorce lawyer who specializes in fathers and husbands, but I know that a court order won’t make someone do something they don’t want to do, and a cursory inspection of Americans getting on a plane won’t prevent a committed zealot.
Standing in the lines, I was imagining what could be used for bad purposes. Frankly, there’s a lot around us every day that a whack job could misapply. We don’t live in a world of safety and we shouldn’t think we do. Better we learn how to protect ourselves and pay attention to those around us.
Coming back from Oakland, I didn’t arrange for someone to pick me up. I wanted to take to the Big Blue Bus back to Santa Monica. I’ve become a fan of the bus for short hops around town, but thought here’s a chance to see it in action in a different way.
I left the airport and hopped on a parking lot shuttle, which takes people to the bus terminal. Across from me was a handsome young man with killer blue eyes. As I was reading how to get home, he got up and jumped off the bus at the first stop. When you take the shuttle, if you want to grab the Big Blue Bus, you wait until the second stop, and the driver lets you off literally 10 feet from where you catch the No. 3 that goes along Lincoln Boulevard into Downtown Santa Monica.
I waited about 15 minutes for the 3 bus to come along. Once on, I see the guy with the blue eyes, and strike up a conversation. Turns out he’s from Liverpool and heading to the youth hostel in Venice. He’s a bit confused and scared. But our conversation sucks in another guy who knows exactly where our British boy is going and together we help him along.
Moving to an open seat on the crowded bus, I recognize a performer I see often on the Santa Monica Pier — the silver robot guy. He’s on the bus with a dolly and three boxes of stuff, plus a boom box, and another piece of equipment.
It’s nice to see people I at least recognize. It goes back to the being aware of one’s surroundings. By paying attention to the boy with the blue eyes, I was able to help him out, by knowing the silver robot guy I didn’t have to be afraid of all his equipment.
The contrast between the bus in the sky and the bus on the road was striking. I didn’t feel safer on the plane because of the security measures, I felt less so. On the bus, where I was presumably at greater risk, I felt safer because I sort of kind of knew someone and was engaging with the people around me. There’s a lesson in that.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.