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As a child, flying on airplanes was exciting and adults who traveled for business seemed glamorous. After joining Venable as an associate, I practically begged to be allowed to go on my first business trip. Looking back, I’d like to think that carrying the trial exhibits was not one of the arguments I put forth in my favor, but, then again, I really wanted to go. Eventually though, somewhere around my third or fourth business trip to rural Illinois in as many weeks � or, I should say, my third or fourth travel delay through Chicago’s O’Hare International airport � the excitement began to fade. Airports and travel delays. Was there ever a time when those words were not synonymous? Probably not, but it certainly feels like the frequency and duration of the delays have magnified exponentially since I traded in my international student card for a box full of business cards. The monotony is occasionally broken by the sighting of a celebrity (even if you don’t realize you’re sitting behind the Good Charlotte twins until after you’ve arrived in Tulsa), the airport people-watching, the browsing of bookstores, the idle chitchat with accompanying colleagues, or an impulse purchase at an airport store. At the end of the day, though, travel delays are all about killing time. Time we, the busy lawyers of the world, simply don’t have. While waiting to board a recent flight at Reagan International airport, two partners and I discussed a newspaper article in which a woebegone traveler, who had been stranded at an airport for far too long, quoted her as being “beyond frustrated.” In today’s travel world, it is not difficult to find a traveler who has experienced “beyond frustrated.” Finally boarding a plane two hours delayed, only to arrive in Chicago at 10 p.m. and be informed that your connecting flight to D.C. was cancelled before you ever left the first airport, your luggage is trapped in the completely inaccessible place bags go when your connecting flight is cancelled, the airport hotels are all booked, and your happy thought before falling asleep in a strange bed where the towels in the bathroom make more comfortable (and sanitary) pillows than the overstuffed rocks provided by the hotel is that you just might make it home in time for dinner with your family the following night. Maybe. Sitting with my colleagues, we traded tales of woe. It soon became clear that the impressive feat was not the traveler who could move beyond anger to defeat in the face of travel delays, but the traveler who could avoid getting angry in the first place. Chalk it up to one more way to kill the travel boredom, but as I sat there and gazed out over the long line of travelers snaking away from the first of many security checkpoints on the lower level, I challenged myself to remain calm when faced with the inevitable travel frustrations that loomed in our future. Surely, mastering such inner calm would have practical application, both personally and professionally? After all, if half-jogging from Terminal A to Terminal C with a heavy, overstuffed briefcase in tow based upon the misrepresentation of an airline employee that they would “hold the door for us” didn’t make me lose my cool, daily stressors like unstable operating systems, mailroom mix-ups, inconclusive research, filing deadlines, and overly litigious opposing counsel would be little more than child’s play. It wasn’t until I was standing with my colleagues in the check-in line for our return voyage and informed that although their bags could be checked in mine could not � I had arrived in line 2 minutes behind them, but less than 30 minutes before our flight departed � that I was reminded what a worthy adversary airports can be. Even as I write this, I don’t know whether it’s comforting or ironic that there will many more opportunities for me to find my traveling Zen. Or not, as the case may be. Amy J. McMaster is an associate in the environmental department at Venable in Washington. Her practice focuses on both criminal defense and civil regulatory compliance.

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