I had the honor of giving Jason and his teammates harem a ride from the finish line of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day at Petco Park in San Diego to where their cars were parked at Del Mar Fairgrounds.

On the morning of the last day of the 3-Day, I offered to meet Jason and team at their campsite in Mission Bay to pick up their gear ahead of time so they wouldn’t have to deal with it later. I was listening to NPR on the way. The program on the air was a panel discussion about the new TSA body-scanning and pat-down procedures. Callers and panelists were discussing their experiences and sharing their views. The topics included terrorism, personal freedom versus public protection, government intrusion into individual rights, and the particularly sensitive issues that scanning and pat downs raise for survivors of sexual abuse. In all, much of the discussion revolved around the darker side of some of our human shortcomings, and I was feeling a little sad as I thought about these things.

And then I pulled into Mission Bay and saw a sea of pink tents, men and women dressed in pink, people who had just walked forty miles in the rain hugging each other, and signs with the names of those who had either survived or had valiantly fought and lost their battles with breast cancer. The collective spirit and love washed over and around me in such a palpable way that I began to cry. I looked ahead and saw Jason and his team waving and smiling from ear-to-ear as my car approached them. I got out and they were all hugging and thanking me for picking up their gear, and I was all, “Dudes. I drove here in a warm, dry car. You guys just walked forty miles in the rain and are about to do twenty more. Thank YOU!” I asked how they were holding up and not one of them complained; in fact, they cheerily responded, “GREAT!” There is so much love in this world. So. Much. Love. You can see it and feel it, especially when so much of it is gathered in one place. And sometimes it’s wearing pink.

Later that day, I watched Jason, his teammates, and 4,000 others walk into Petco Park. After a sixty-mile, three-day journey, every last one of those people was smiling as they walked by. Some of them had plastic bags stuffed into their shoes because of the rain, but those people were smiling too. Some of them were dancing. Others were jumping up and down. Some were doing a conga line into the park. I was crying. During the closing ceremony it was announced that the 4,000 participants of the San Diego 3-Day raised over ten million dollars. I heard that and was awash with hope and joy. When some of us fall, many more will do the work to lift each other up. I also came away with a new rule that I think is best shared: Whenever the opportunity arises for us to be in the presence of a collective consciousness of such power and goodness, we should put ourselves in the midst of it. It cannot help but remind us that we are blessed people.

I’m going to get on an airplane over Thanksgiving weekend. Having a law degree, I am aware of my legal rights as they pertain to a full body scan and pat down search. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I am sensitive to how a full body scan and pat down will feel to me, how just thinking about it feels to me. As I approach the airport security checkpoint, I will be mindful and protective with regard to boundaries for my daughter and me, and I have talked about all of it with her. I don’t have to get on an airplane. Nobody is making me go through the checkpoint. (I am also aware that others who travel for work or other reasons may have no choice, and the increased measures may mean something different to them. I respect that fully.)

As for me, I am traveling by air willingly, and in so doing I will treat the TSA agents with the respect and dignity that I want from them. I appreciate that we live in a place where we can talk about these issues and work together to make things better. I think right now the vast majority of us are simply trying to figure out how to balance air travel safety with our treasured personal freedom. Although I am aware that there is always potential for abuse in any system, I will be mindful of and watch for this potential. I can be patient with the process and keep my eye on the prize, which is a travel experience that is as safe on the ground as I can make it and as safe in the air as TSA can make it. This holiday weekend I will be grateful that I had the choice to travel by air to be with family. It is Thanksgiving after all.

21 comments on “3-Day and TSA”

  1. Great post! Having walked the 3-day, I can honestly say that it was one of the most postive and moving experiences I’ve ever had. Way to go Jason & Friends!! You made a difference!

    As for TSA and air travel, I don’t know how to feel. I would echo many of the same thoughts you have, obviously, and get through whatever I need to do in order to keep myself and everyone else on the plane safe. I guess I think if everyone wants to be upset about it, they should focus their discontent on the condition of a world that makes this sort of search necessary in order to travel safely.

  2. It’s a crazy mixed-up world when you can see so much love and support in the middle of a terrorist-conscious world. I’m glad I won’t be flying this weekend. I’d have a hard time allowing the pat-downs. I just think it’s an over-reaction. There must be other things we can do. Better detectors when you walk through the old-time scanners. I don’t know. But I do think the terrorists are laughing at us right now.

  3. “Whenever the opportunity arises for us to be in the presence of a collective consciousness of such power and goodness, we should put ourselves in the midst of it. It cannot help but remind us that we are blessed people.”
    –I love this.

    Al-Qaeda is gleeful over the new TSA methods AND the resulting chaos — they have said so themselves. I’m curious what traveling your experiences will be this weekend, and I hope you will share them upon return.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. I think I’d rather have a gleeful, laughing terrorist than an angry one.

    But seriously? Even if we can’t be safe, safer or, better yet, as safe as we can figure out how to be seems like a very worthy pursuit to me. I think we’re trying to get there.

    And how ’bout that Jason, his team, and the 4000+ participants who raised over $10,000,000! SHOUT OUT!

  5. Jason and Cheri = MY HEROS.
    I don’t want the pat down. I don’t want the body scan. But I cannot bear to have people touch me, or be very near, so I would go with the body scan even if the pics of my ultra-s3xy body were broadcast around the airport. I love to fly, and as a small person have never lacked for comfort or legroom on a plane. On the one hand you figure flying is inconvenient these days. On the other, as long as you aren’t stuck in a blizzard at O’Hare for 3 days, it sure beats horse and wagon in 1850. Best wishes Cheri and Jason, Happy Thanksgiving to all of your families!

  6. awesome what Jason and his team did…and I love you even more! This flying thing, tho…because of my colostomy, I’m really going to have to think hard about flying now.

  7. Gary: I think you and Tom are of the same mind. He’d prefer to skip the pat down, I’m sure. But he doesn’t care who sees his junk.

    Janet: I has gots my issues too with this more intrusive TSA approach. I didn’t choose to have them forced upon me, but those issues are all mine now! Let’s think about this together: Neither your bag or my baggage is going anywhere. We got ’em to stay, so what we do with them is what counts. Why not wear it loud and wear it proud?

    XO all of y’alls.

  8. First of all Happy Thanksgiving my friend.

    Next….congratulations to your friend Jason for completing such a loving,important walk.

    Re TSA regs….I love how you wrote it and completely understand your reservations but also love that you will treat with respect the people who are charged with keeping you safe

  9. How great for you to highlight the larger issues here in the context of personal experience.

    Hooray for Jason! What love.

    We’re traveling on Thanksgiving, too. I am mindful that not all travelers go through the invasive scanners; most just go through the regular one.

    I’m also wondering, can there be a bright side to this? If the invasive scanners can see everything, maybe we shouldn’t have to take off our shoes, jackets, belts, etc?

    I am thinking I would not like to be a TSA agent and have to do these pat-downs for my job. It must be difficult for most of them, too.

    Sadly, I don’t know how effective any of this is. It’s mostly theatre.

  10. “Whenever the opportunity arises for us to be in the presence of a collective consciousness of such power and goodness, we should put ourselves in the midst of it. It cannot help but remind us that we are blessed people.”

    You said so many amazing things in this story – made me cry, made me say, “RIGHT!” out loud even, but this new rule is indeed one to live by.

    I could never match wits with you, leave the insightful, funny comments you do, have the amazing insights. I’m glad you DO have them because you lift us all when when you share them.

    This one goes way beyond Truffle Fries.

  11. My first thought when I read about these TSA pat-downs – how this would affect sexual assault victims. But I do feel that hurling disrespect their way is just adding insult to injury.

  12. i love your ability to pare things down to the essential meaning of it all.

    i also love your advice about being around others who have something positive and beautiful to share.

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