Patrick Ward words, code, and music

Out of My Way! That's My Bag

The bags travelled along the conveyor like chocolate confections. A crowd of us had assembled to watch as they slowly circled the baggage area before dipping back behind gently swaying, neoprene curtains. I folded my arms, waiting, as they reappeared on the other side, often trailing new ones behind them. We were each looking for our particular flavor, the one bag that held all of our personal belongings; our ticket to get out of there and leave all these strangers behind.

It was late in the evening, bordering on midnight, as we stood there with patient, but tired, faces. The voices were muffled and pleasant, respectful of the hour and the ordeal we all shared. I had been traveling for seven hours at this point, half asleep and ready to make the short drive home.

My mind was wandering, trying to take in the lessons of the past week. I had spent the last six days in Vegas mutating from a curmudgeonly, paranoid hermit into an enlightened being with social worth at a personal development conference. I may have been a little shell shocked, unsure of the courage and the love I felt within.

I was high on optimism, but short on the skills needed to maintain it. I could feel myself slowly slipping back into recluse mode, fading into the background with a scowl that thrives on fatigue and frustration. So, I kept to myself, mainly, trying not to drain the room.

I scanned the conveyor with the eyes of a predator, focusing on one idea: grab it and go!

And then it appeared, my wonderful black bag with the red lettering and the familiar business card stuck to the side. There’s something beautiful about seeing your possessions steadily working their way towards you. I breathed a sigh of relief; this trip was almost over.

“Excuse me! Excuse me! Out of my way, please. That’s my Bag!”

I heard the voice, but it didn’t register.

My bag was almost at me. I reached out my hand, ready to save it from the circular belt, when a body brushed across me from the left, pushing me to the side and into the lady on my right.

I was dazed.

A large, gray tweed suit had squeezed by me grabbing at suitcases, struggling to lift them off the conveyor.

But I had other issues to deal with.

My bag was moving away from me, heading towards that abyss behind the plastic curtains. All I could think about was saving my bag; save it before it disappears again! So, I shifted and turned, doing little pirouettes through the crowd in pursuit of my one and only possession. It seemed to speed up as it moved ahead of me, evading my every grasp. Until, at last, I caught it, just as it began to lift the frayed edges of those cursed curtains.

I pulled it off the conveyor and set it down on the carpet, dusting it off as if petting my dog, proud of it’s journey back to me.

I would have left it at that, too tired to fight over rudeness. But, he had to say something. He had to say, “Some people just don’t listen!” and then glared back at me.

He had a pudgy, flaccid face, with eyes that bulged out of their sockets like tiny red ping pongs. His hair was thinning, combed over to hide the all too obvious bald spots. His suit seemed too tight and short, as if the cleaners had returned it a size too small.

My exhaustion turned to anger, welling up in me like a bare knuckle gypsy fighter. And then the words flew out of my mouth before I knew it:

“Futue te ipsum! Te futueo et caballum tuum!” Which, roughly translated, means “Go Fuck Yourself! Screw you and the horse you rode in on!”

They were the only phrases I remembered from Latin, and not the kind you learn in school. I’d always used them in sheer exasperation. It was base, vulgar and totally disarming to my pudgy friend and the others around me, precisely the intended effect. If it wasn’t for the blood rushing to my head and the emotional fatigue I was feeling, I probably would have dropped to the floor in laughter. The utter confusion was priceless.

We stood there, he and I, eye to eye for what seemed like minutes. I could hear the hushed whispers of the people around us, balking at the late night airport scuffle. Yet, as I glared back at this crude man’s twisted scowl, I began to think of the last exercise we performed at the conference I had just attended.

It was a love exercise, meant to physically and emotionally challenge two people to literally feel the love and compassion between them as they stood face to face. The idea was to stare into the left eye of your partner and beam compassion, care, and kindness to them. Let them know they are loved, so that in that one instant the two of you were connected spiritually as one being.

And so, as I stood there in the silence, my fists clenched, blood pulsating in my ears, I began to notice my gaze shift towards his left eye. I burst forth a bright green laser beam of love into that bastard’s eye so hot he was going to know he was loved for months to come! In that instant, I had decided I was not going to slink back down into that former hermit’s habits. I was going to be a healer of sorts, a regular Johnny Appleseed of fucking love!

When I was done, I picked up my bag, smiled as wide a grin as I could muster towards him, and walked off like a knight errant, confident in the chivalry of my deeds.

I can only imagine the confusion that must have been going through the crowd as I turned my back to them all, but at that point it didn’t really matter. I had done what I needed to do and turned that ugly situation into something wondrous; a story to be retold, pondered about, and giggled at.

As I stepped into the airport parking garage, a smile began to creep across my face. The tiredness had left my body.