It could have been a good joke. Did you hear the one about two priests, a pregnant woman and a guy in big hat? Wait for the punch line.
Another Tuesday morning at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Two young priests in full-length cassocks stand with arms outstretched as a TSA agent runs a wand over their bodies. The pregnant woman in front of me is called aside to remove lotion bottles from her carry on bag. A tall man with a tall ten gallon cowboy hat asks the agents to hand carry his new purchase through security. The security folks agree.
My ticket has “TSA PRECHK” on the top. I don’t have to remove my shoes. I’ve flown enough this year on one airline to earn this small special dispensation. The pregnant woman isn’t happy with differential treatment and grumbles as she eases out of her heels. On the other side we redress, reshuffle the things we carry, check our tickets and id are easily available, and disperse into the early business morning crowd.
There was a moment when we were a spontaneous community. Then the common experience is over and we are merely strangers who have successfully navigated a small challenge at seven thirty in the morning.
For some reason I need to write about these four people. On the tram to the concourse I consider taking out my laptop. I pass a collection of tables and think about stopping. Seasoned traveler, I get to the gate area and claim an end seat. The words haven’t disappeared, the sensation is still fresh, nothing else has distracted my thoughts.
Perhaps this small group stands out because each person so clearly carried unique identifiers into the homogenized crowd of dark-suited business travelers. The young priests proclaimed their faith, the pregnant woman could be called a mother, Mr. Cowboy carried his self-identity high above most of us. In a busy world where blending in is a valued skill, they were exceptional. Somehow they’ll find their way, as one grouping, into some future writing.
As for my Green Bay Packer logo jacket, well the insignia is tastefully embroidered on the left chest. Not really noticeable unless someone is looking closely at strangers in a crowd.