I arrived at the airport three hours before my flight, expecting incredibly long lines and incredibly disgruntled TSA agents.

What I instead found, surprised me.

Security moved at about the same speed as normal.  In front of me in line was a well-dressed man in an Armani suit with a fancy briefcase.

He’s obviously a regular traveler.  At least that’s what he was screaming at the TSA agent who was conducting a search of his briefcase after it went through security.

“You’d better be careful with that bag, buddy – you shouldn’t even need to put your paws on it to begin with,” the guy told the agent.

I was also waiting to have my bag searched.  That’s the fun byproduct of losing my TSA pre-check a couple of years ago (I don’t want to talk about it).

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not one to mind my own business in the face of bullies.

“That’s a gorgeous briefcase,” I told him.  “What is that, alligator leather?”

“Yeah – it’s a Brooks Brothers,” he replied with a smile and a hint of surprise.  It took him a second to realize that I was wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt that says “Whiskey Drinking, Bacon Eating Infidel“.  His smile soured.

Infidel

“That must run, what like $10,000?” I asked.

“Got it at a steal,” he told me.  “It’s a $12,000 bag and I paid just under $11,000 for it.”

“Man, imagine what this guy could do with $11,000 right now,” I said to him, gesturing at the TSA agent.  Seeing the wedding band on the agents hand, I rolled the dice.

“Sir,” I said to the agent, “do you have kids?”

“I do,” he said.  “Three of them.”

“And let me guess,” I said to him, now ignoring the pretentious traveler standing there.  “You’re trying to figure out how the hell you’re going to pay your mortgage if this government shutdown continues on?”

The TSA agent dropped his eyes to the ground.  He didn’t say anything.

Then, just as the traveler started to laugh, the TSA agent spoke in a low voice.

“It’s not just the mortgage.  It’s the electric.  It’s the oil.  It’s the food.  My wife is home with the kids.  If something doesn’t change soon, I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said.

There was an awkward silence.

He closed the briefcase and handed it back to the traveler.  “You’re all set, sir.  Have a good business trip and a safe flight.  God bless.”

The man was speechless.  “You too,” he responded.

It’s bad enough that these men and women are coming to work every day right now without pay.  They don’t deserve to deal with jackasses like that traveler.

And so to all of the men and women who serve and protect our communities and our country in various capacities… I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that you’ve become political pawns.  I’m sorry that bureaucrats on both sides of the aisle have decided that you and your family are expendable.

I’m sorry about the stress you face.  The anxiety over how you’re going to get through this.  The dangers you face daily and the idiots you deal with are bad enough.

Our country has never been more divided.  And it’s easy for us to get caught up in doubling down on our conservative or liberal perspectives when it comes to the line in the sand that’s been drawn on both sides over the wall.

But we are simply keyboard warriors – all of us.  Myself included.  The actual warriors are holding the thin blue line every day to keep us safe.  And now they’re doing it without being paid.

We owe it to them to have their six, and to at least treat them with the respect and appreciation that the deserve.

If you agree… pass this along.