Monday, August 14, 2006

Brave New World.

I've been poked, puffed, prodded, screened, careened, padded-down, felt-up, man-handled, scan-handled, taken shoes off, removed shirts, had strangers trifle through my things and lost about $300 in loose change. And that's just on MUNI.
Trying to get on a flight is far more intense.
With the news coming out of London, it seems that air travel and the security around it are on the precipice of change...again.
I remember one year as children my grandma came up to visit around Halloween. During her trip we carved numerous pumpkins and somehow the pumpkin cutter ended up in her purse. This was during the days when anyone who wanted to could go to the gate. Nowadays you need to submit a urine sample just to enter short-term parking. So there we all stood as the screener pulled the little knife with a jack-o-lantern handle out of her bag. All of us, including security, shook our heads and laughed. Grandma!
If that happened today she would be whisked away by the FBI, and declared an enemy to freedom by the White House. Surely the days when anyone who emptied their pockets could stand by gates seems like a different world entirely. The fact that water bottles and shampoo are no longer allowed makes my grandma and that pumpkin cutter story seem like public enemy #1. It's crazy to think about how quickly things change.
Don't get me wrong. It's obvious heightened security measures are needed, and I really don't mind. I arrive hours before my flights anyway because airport people watching is unparalleled. But usually one way of a return trip, I'm asked to step aside while security pats me down and messes up the carry-on I've tried so hard to neatly pack. But it's for the safety of the world, so I suck it up. On the first flight I took after 9/11 I was patted down by a guard and began to feel a bit awkward with how thorough she was. I was used to the keys in the tray security check. Finally I said, "sorry, I like to take things slow." She didn't find this funny. I was rather amused.
So for whatever reason it is that I'm always screened further, (maybe I should stop flying with my 'Who Told You To Put The Balm On?' t-shirt) I take it as a chance to make security smile.
-Well, now you owe me dinner.
-Do you even remember my name?
-You work here, right?
-That's the spot. (note: I've never actually said this)
I've never been successful. Obviously combating terrorism is important and I'm extremely grateful they take their jobs so seriously, and have never had me detained for being an ass.
So without going into a huge rant, we live in a world completely different from what our parents might have hoped for us. It's true, and it sucks. That liquids, lotions, gels, toothpastes, etc., have been banned is only the beginning. I imagine at some point, all forms of matter will be prohibited. Those oxygen masks will suddenly make sense because you can't bring your own air on board. And then you might be inclined to put down your Sky-Mall catalog and give that flight attendant a bit more attention as he demonstrates how to put it over your face.
I read an opinion article in which someone suggested no bags whatsoever be allowed on passenger flights and that a second plane, carrying only bags, flies behind that flight. If the author of that suggestion isn't 7, let me tell you what's wrong with it.
A) Who would want to fly that plane?!
B) Two flights for every plane now in the air would do wonders for that whole global warming thing. Your idea for double the emissions is all well and good but don't you dare complain about the heat when you land in Reykjavik.
Here's the thing.
The threat of ANYTHING has always existed. Wrath of God (Biblical Times), Persian Invasion (Ancient Greece), Grendel (whenever is was that Beowulf took place), trans fats (Biblical Times, Book of Oreo), whatever it is, it seems a fear must exist.
So while thousands of passengers threw away half of their belongings before heading to the gate to be rubbed down by a few more people, they accepted it as the necessary evil of our time.
I won't pretend to have a point here. It's just sad more than anything. I've no idea how to stop people from wanting to blow things up, and maybe taking people's drinks away is a good way to prevent it, I don't know. But in our daily lives, away from beeping gates, maybe treating people with respect, and helping spread tolerance through simple kindness is a better way to start.
Drink plenty of fluids people. Peace.


SARAH said...

I would pay for a "Who Told You To Put The Balm On" tshirt!!! On a related note, best movie ever about Wally World was on yesterday with classic lines such as "She has 11 cents, Dad," and "Rusty! Crack open those sandwiches from the gas station. I'm so hungry I could eat a sandwich from a gas station." Good stuff.

Brina said...

I saw it on tv too! Just as they arrived at Wally World, only to find it closed. Sorry, Folks!

Perhaps if more people vacationed like the Griswolds we wouldn't have to worry about airplane security so much. I sense a resurgence of the popularity of station wagons!!

Jess said...

Sarah, those are hands down my favorite lines from that movie! those and, "vicky, can i help you with that koolaid? Please?"

Bri, watching vacation, aunt bert's living room, lunch after swimming. greatest summers of all time, right?

sophie's choice. vacation, european vacation, xmas vacation??