Every now and then the Universe tests you.
Tests your character,
Tests your beliefs,
Tests your standing as a spiritual being.
I like to think I’m now a spiritual being. On a spiritual path.
And yesterday I was tested, and I failed.
I failed miserably.
I was flying back from screenings in Queensland, and I was at Brisbane airport. I’d checked in, and I was going through security.
Now, I travel a lot, as most of you know. And I’ve been through security at airports all over the world. I know the drill, I know these security screeners have an important job to do, and I am always courteous, compliant, and respectful.
Except for yesterday.
I had hand luggage. That’s all. For a three day trip to Queensland, I had everything in my carry-on, including my toiletry bag. My toiletry bag included my shaving kit, which included a small aerosol can of shaving cream.
I buy these small cans specifically for travelling, because they meet the security regulations for flights. All you have to do, when you go through security, is take the aerosol can out of your carry-on and put it in a tray. Which I dutifully did.
I went through the personal scanner thingy, then I was told by a security guard that my aerosol can couldn’t be allowed on the flight.
I asked why.
Tha guard didn’t give me a reason.
They don’t have to.
I told him that I had come from Sydney to Brisbane a couple of days earlier and that very same can had passed the presumably stringent security checks of Sydney airport. Why had it failed here in Brisbane?
Now, before I proceed any further with this tragic story, you have to understand, I have a particular personality failing.
I hate authority.
I hate mindless authority.
Authority that mindlessly follows rules, irrespective of common sense.
The security guard didn’t answer me – he didn’t have to – but he took the suspect can of shaving cream over to his supervisor. The supervisor gingerly picked up the can, examined it carefully as though it were something found on the street outside the American Embassy in Afghanistan.
The supervisor gave an imperceptible nod to the security guard, which could have been interpreted two ways – either it was a nod of approval that the miscreant can had passed this higher level of inspection and was, after all, safe to travel; or it could have been a nod of approval to the security guard that, thankfully, because of his keen eye and his rigorous attention to detail, he was to be commended for preventing a potential mid air disaster, with massive loss of life.
The security guard came over to me and said: My supervisor says this can can’t be allowed on the flight.
Well, we all know that the supervisor, in a situation like this, has ultimate authority. A passenger cannot question the decision of a supervisor. Not unless that said passenger wants to end up catching a train to Sydney.
Needless to say, this dictum from a Higher Authority did nothing to appease me.
It only inflamed me.
I was now dealing with not only one moron, but two morons – one slightly more highly paid than the other.
See? You can already tell that I was failing the test the Universe had set for me.
Once again I asked why.
I pointed out, trying to stay calm and amiable and even pleasant, that I had traveled with the can from Sydney to Brisbane only two days earlier, and the can hadn’t changed in that short period of time. In fact, I pointed out sagely, I had shaved twice and so presumably it was less dangerous than two days prior. The only thing that’s changed, apart from the contents of the can, I said, was you. A security guard at Sydney airport had declared the can fit and able to travel, and now you and your supervisor say it can’t. (They close ranks, you know, in situations like this, particularly in Brisbane). How come?
The security guard pointed to the can, to the sealing around the can’s midriff, and said with a Gotcha smirk: It’s corroded. It’s dangerous.
If I was a dog at that moment I would have snarled.
If I was a cat I would have hissed.
If I was a cow I would have dumped a big smoking pat on his foot.
I was none of those. I was an aggrieved passenger trying to prevent separation from something that had suddenly and needlessly become quite precious to me. It might have been a lethal can of death and destruction to that guard, but to me it had become a point of honour, to point out the inconsistency and idiocy of the situation.
Yes, ego had entered the equation.
And yes, another test failed.
Regardless, I pointed out that this alleged corrosion hadn’t just appeared in two days. It was there when it passed through security at Sydney airport. This was my Gotcha moment that went straight through to the keeper.
Now, you can tell by this lengthy exchange that I had arrived early for my flight and I had oodles of time to debate.
The security guard pulled out his trump card. I’ve checked with my supervisor and that’s what he said.
Now, you have to understand, these cans of shaving cream cost $3.50. And that particular one was nearly empty. It’s not like I was arguing, nay, challenging, over the potential loss of something valuable.
What I saw as valuable was the principle. That moron #1 and slightly-more-highly-paid moron #2 were limiting my freedom. My freedom to be able to take my can of shaving cream, that I had by this stage bonded with – we’d become quite close – on a journey home.
But hey, I know when I can win a fight and I know when to walk away.
I walked away.
And as I walked away, I thought: Bill, you’ve just failed the test. You might think you’ve become a Highly Evolved Spiritual Being, but every now and then, you get tested to see how highly evolved you really are.
Obviously I’m still at the salamander stage.
And that’s why I have titled this, I failed the test #1. Because I’m sure there will be other tests too, which I’m sure to fail. And when I do, you’ll be the first to read about it here!