You’re going to Barney Fife this; aren’t you??

It’s a good thing I just have a little more than a month of my commitment to this blog…It seems that I am finding it more and more difficult to hit that Sunday night deadline. Please accept my apologies, once again, for being late.

I have had the same best friend for 45 years! Throughout the years, I have gotten her into more “snafus,” embarrassing moments, and humiliating situations than she expected, or was prepared for. She is the Laverne to my Shirley…the Ethel to my Lucy…Given our history, I am amazed that she will still go anywhere with me…We travel a great deal in our business, so this is one of those travel stories…

Unfortunately, after the September 11th tragedy, we had to fly to Minneapolis, MN…only about three weeks after the incident. Anyone flying during this time was pretty apprehensive and a little fearful. We entered the airport with armed military personnel standing at all entrances, and scattered throughout the airport. For the first time, we were almost strip-searched at security. (As an aside, you need to know that I am not the world’s best air traveler to begin with, even though I have to fly quite a bit. I am quite aware that the machine I am flying in, could go down in a huge fiery ball, at any given moment. So, when I get on a plane, I do several things to take my mind off of the “obvious.” I will play trivia onboard, if that is an option, or soduko; but mostly, I get a good book and read the entire time that I am in the air.)

We made it through security, and boarded our first flight with no problems. Of course, our connection was in Atlanta, so we had a little layover before boarding the next flight. All passengers had been told to be “alert” and mindful of the “goings on” around you…that if you saw anything “suspicious,” it would be better to err on the side of caution, as opposed to doing nothing. So….as we were sitting at our gate, two separate individuals caught my attention. Yes, I WAS profiling…whether you agree or disagree is not a factor…you weren’t the one flying three weeks after the terrible tragedy in NYC! At that point in time, here was my thought…if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…it probably IS a duck! The two individuals, who got my attention, were not seemingly together. Both were pacing back and forth around the gate area, and talking very “furtively” on their cell phones. To me, they DID look and act a little suspicious…I did not say anything to my travel partner at the time. I just continued to observe, and process…

The agent announced that it was time for us to board the plane, so we gathered our briefcases and books, and lined up to enter the jet bridge. As we were in line, I turned around to get one more look at my “suspicious” characters. Much to my dismay (or relief), I saw that both men had been pulled over by security, and were being asked questions. I thought, “Aha! You called that one right!!” I was extremely relieved to know that they were not getting on the plane with us! We got to our seats and got settled in. I happened to be sitting in the aisle seat. We put our briefcases under the seats in front of us, buckled our seat belts, and calmly began reading our books. I took that moment to comment that “those men that I had been watching” had been pulled out of the line, and were probably not going to be on the plane with us. The comments and questions began.  “What men?” “Who were you watching…and WHY were you watching them?” “And what do you mean, they have been pulled out of line?” My friend patiently listened (as she always does when I seem to be overreacting or panicking), and reassured me that everything was going to be OK…to stop worrying. I felt a little sheepish that I might have been a little overly concerned…that is, until I saw the first man enter the plane. His seat just “happened” to be directly in front of mine. 

As my brain was processing this new turn of events, I began thinking of how I could subdue the man if he began any “terrorist” actions once we got up in the air. I was trying to remember all of those wrestling “choke holds” that my little brother used on me a number of times as we were growing up. I was trying to remember how to use a pencil or pen as a deadly weapon if you hit the “right” spot on someone’s neck! I was planning out my moves, step by step, “just in case…” Just as I thought I had everything under control, the second man entered the plane and sat in the seat, across the aisle, right beside me! Of course, I was thinking…I am going to have to take both of them out at the same time!! Naturally, I did NOT mention any of my meandering thoughts to my traveling buddy…

The plane took off, and we were on our way! Everything seemed as it should be, and I relaxed a little and began to read my book. Unfortunately, I finished my book about 30 minutes before we arrived in Minneapolis, so I had a little extra time for “observations.” Minutes before we began our approach into the Twin Cities, the man in front of me got up and went to the rear bathroom. Within moments, the second man got up and went to another bathroom, also in the rear of the plane. After a while, I thought maybe I should mention this situation to my friend. It went something like this… Me: “Both of those men went back to bathrooms quite a while ago.” Her: “What? What are you talking about? Which men?” Me: “The men that I was watching at the Atlanta Airport…the men that got pulled out of line for questioning…those suspicious men!! They have been in the bathrooms long enough to take care of whatever business they needed to do!!” Her: “You’ve finished your book; haven’t you?” Me: “Yes, but that does not negate the fact that they have been back there too long! I timed them! I think I need to alert the stewardess.” Her: “You are going to Barney Fife this; aren’t you? You’re going to make a Citizen’s Arrest!” Me: “No, but they told us to speak up if we observed anything suspicious, and I have observed quite a lot of ‘suspicious’ this trip!” Her: “Just give it a few more minutes, and if they have still not returned to their seats, then talk with the stewardess.” Me: “Ok, I will wait a few moments longer.” It’s a good thing I waited! Both men returned to their seats, and we landed safely in Minneapolis…Me, without making a Barney Fife Citizen’s Arrest, and my friend, with no humiliating or embarrassing moment where I drew unnecessary attention to us. As always, the story now is so much funnier (and safer) than it was when in the moment.

Fear can control our lives if we let it. It can cause us to misinterpret someone’s actions. It can paralyze us to the point that we can do nothing, when action is absolutely vital. It can keep us from taking on new challenges, and make us unwilling to try “new things.” It keeps us from being adventuresome. What are you afraid of? And how does it impact your life? I want to live a life without worry and fear of what “may” happen. I will certainly exercise good judgment, but I will NOT let fear control who I am, or who I want to be. Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

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2 thoughts on “You’re going to Barney Fife this; aren’t you??

  1. Gayla Anderson Gibbs says:

    Hi Cathy–I had to respond to this. Working with felony offenders in the field of probation, I’ve had several people to ask me over the years, “why do you work with “those people”. I thought about that for a few minutes and stated “I don’t fear these people and I will not allow myself to be in fear”. And believe it or not, I have a picture of Barney Fife in my office because my clients know that I believe in “budd nipping”. Barney was always nipping things in the budd before things got out of control (or at least he tried.LOL)–pretty good practice. I am like you, I practice caution but I will not let fear control me. Love you Friend !

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