Groundhog day – the movie I mean – recently taught me something. Amusing as it may seem to some – it took me over 20 years to learn the lesson that the movie was trying to get across. I realize now what the movie was about – and I am wondering if perhaps I had ‘got it’ earlier – I might have had an easier life!
For those of you who never saw the movie – Bill Murray wakes up day after day with the same thing happening, sequence by sequence exactly as he had the day previous. Nothing changes. He has the same disagreements and the same conversations over and over. The theme is about experiencing the same lesson over and over until you learn it.
Yeah, I know. We talk about stuff like this – but do we really learn our lessons in life? Judging by the conversations I have with others, who get stuck in a circle of behaviour that repeats over and over – not very often.
Case in point - I travel frequently by air – and as a result have to endure the disrobing, dismantling and de-shoeing at the airport security line every time I am scheduled to travel by plane. The problem was that I had the incredible “you been selected for a personal search” record of 8 out of ten visits. That’s right – out of 20 trips through the security line, I was ‘randomly’ searched 16 times.
At first I was upset, then curious, then disgruntled and then furious. It got to the point that I arrived at the security line up thinking that I should just ask them to search me. That way it was my choice and I could choose if I wanted to waste their time instead of having them waste mine.
For those who know me – I do not even come close to appearing like a security threat. So I began to rationalize. Did I appear too confident? Did I disrobe too early, knowing what to take off and what not to take off? Did I look too organized? When I go through the detector – it NEVER beeps so what is the deal?
The last trip I took, I waited in line patiently, nestled between about 10 true blue cowboys – hats, rodeo jackets and all. Some smelled of alcohol – a raucous bunch. I figured I was pretty safe looking in comparison as I did not have any spurs on my shoes – but I took them off anyway.
Three cowboys went before me – none of them taking off their boots. None were asked to. Then it was my turn – and you guessed it – I was selected for the ‘random search’.
I immediately demanded to be searched in private – as was my right to do so. This time though – I lost it. I became verbally abusive, difficult and vented my anger demanding to know what I had done to be chosen. A supervisor was called in and assured me I was chosen randomly. After the search was over – I complained to the supervisor – advising her of the poor job the security personnel had done.
They had missed searching my hair which was pinned up with a 6 inch pin. As a former police officer, having searched hundreds of people on their arrest – I knew this was a favourite spot for women to store knives and other weapons. I told them that they were truly incompetent!
Through the entire process, part of me watched from the outside myself at what was happening. I observed my behaviour and began to ask myself if this is the way I wanted to be treated ….etc. “Of course not” came my retort. “So what is the deal?” my good self asked my naughty self. Through a series of questions, I finally realized what was going on. And I also realized the lesson attached.
While in policing, I really regarded security personnel as ‘wanna-be’s”. They were never as well trained as police officers – and often those who could not cut it as cops were hired as security officers. The truth is I had no respect for their position and what they did. Little wonder that the lesson I had to learn was one of respect for those who held security positions at the airport.
I realized at that point that they were regular people with a position of authority – and that I needed to respect that. After an apology to the supervisor for my behaviour, I realized how important it was to respect others, not just those I chose to respect.
The result? That simple mindset of respect for my fellow human beings and their positions has resulted in a much calmer experience at all the airports I frequent. And it is no surprise that I have not been chosen for a personal search since I changed my mind.
The funnier piece of this story – I finally learned my lesson on groundhog day. Thanks to Bill Murray – I finally got it.