Monday, July 9, 2007

Thoughts from the Airport

I’m flying to Orlando to give a presentation on some research done by a Ph.D. candidate at OU. I love traveling and while I’ve been to half the 50 states, Florida is one of the ones I haven’t been to yet, and one I’ve most wanted to see.

Airport security, however, is one of the things I do not enjoy about traveling. The process of checking in through airport security gets more odious and invasive every year. I’ve traveled through many airports while I was in the Marines, but it has been many years since the last time I flew. I wasn’t sure what new pointless rules would have been added in my long hiatus from travel, but I knew to expect a sour experience.

As I stood in line waiting to go through the metal detector, it occurred to me that we didn’t feel the same way we feel when about to board a bus or standing in line to enter a public place. This was more like prisoners standing in line waiting for punishment. Why don’t they just make us strip naked and throw delousing powder over us like the scene at the beginning of the Shawshank Redemption.

I was of course picked for a bag search. I’m always picked for a random bag search, even though I have never done anything wrong. I don’t fit their racial profiling nor am I on a list, as far as I know; I am simply spectacularly unlucky. I know to also expect to be pulled out of the line for another random bag search when I try to board the plane, as if their first bag search was not enough. Perhaps I am such a geek that my body language looks wrong to former high school jocks turned security guards.

After searching my bag the security guard informs me that my toothpaste, hair crème, and shaving cream are potentially dangerous chemicals and that I will only be allowed to take one of them with me, and in a quantity no greater than 3 ounces. And it has to be in a plastic bag. He kindly offered to escort me back out of security, so that I can go home and retrieve a plastic bag to carry my three ounces of the gel of my choice.

And miss my flight.

I’m beginning to think there might be a market for 3 ounce bottles of combination shaving gel and hair crème that tastes like toothpaste.

If they are afraid of allowing these things on the plane, why allow 3 ounces of it? Why not just ban it? Nevermind that I can’t imagine what one could do wrong with these. Perhaps they are afraid I will shave the pilot, or give a pretty flight attendant a permanent bad hair day with my hair crème. I can’t even speculate what good the plastic bag does.

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