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Here's a little story from AGU, or rather from on the way to AGU. The airplane was apparently full of geologists, because there were a ridiculous number of us with poster tubes. We're like a weird little clan and that's our totem. There were so many of us with tubes they had two bins reserved just for poster tubes.

Anyway, I had a poster of my own, and thus a big poster tube I had to carry with me. My life was in that tube, my entire reason for going to AGU at all. So of course I forgot it in the bathroom near the gate and then walked merrily out of the security checkpoint so I couldn't even go back and get it.

I spent the next fifteen minutes running from counter to counter, security to the airlines to the information desk, trying to get someone to help me. I was nearly in tears. There wasn't time to get a new version of the poster printed out without it costing a lot of money I didn't have.

Thankfully I ran into a group of three police officers while I was running through the terminal. I explained the situation to them and they agreed to go check the bathroom for me since they thankfully had a female officer with them. They strolled away, and I waited by the security checkpoint and wrung my hands for about five minutes.

Then they walked back. No poster tube. They shook their heads and shrugged.

I wondered if it was all right to faint over a stupid poster. Or as a mature and responsibility thirty-two-year-old grad student, burst into massive, sobbing tears.

Then the tallest of the three officers pulled a poster tube from behind his back and grinned at me.

Such relief, I have not often felt. And we all laughed.

I'm very grateful to those police officers for being so nice to me and helping me out. I'm grateful even now that they found my poster and saved me a world of trouble. And I'm grateful to them for messing with me, as weird as that sounds. It felt great to laugh. And back when I was an EMT, that was kind of the rule - if the cops don't mess with you, it means they don't like you.

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March 2017


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