Saturday, November 20, 2010

The TSA: A Warm and Fuzzy Feeling

Airline Attire
So it's taken this, another, more aggressive stance by the Transportation Security Administration to raise the ire of airline passengers.  And all under the false pretense of providing an increased measure of safety.  When you consider that the fantastic experience that flying actually is, I'm surprised people have ever stopped complaining about the joke that is airport security.

All the gropes and scans do not make flying one bit "safer", only more aggravating and expensive. I am amazed how so many people accept this massive deception, and how easily they are willing to subject themselves to this further invasion of privacy.

These stringent new procedures, the body scans and feeling up Grandma, may possibly weed the novice Jihadist who is just ignorant enough to fashion a third testicle out of C-4 and duct tape it to his scrotum.

The TSA agents are not the "trained security professionals" they are painted to be.  The majority are half-witted buffoons who gladly accept the lifetime security of a government job after being fired or laid off as mall cops, security guards, night watchmen, or just a Barney Fife who has obviously failed every other non-government career attempt.

After leaving the ticket counter, the first trial of the security gauntlet is the Ticket Checker.  Usually found at the end of the first maze of velvet ropes, this guy's job is to catch the potential terrorist slipping up by presenting a photo ID with a different name than found on his ticket. Didn't the lady at the ticket counter just do that?

Passing this initial check leads you to the second velvet rope maze, designed to line everyone up for the X-ray Bucket Shuffle.  You know the drill:  place your shoes in a plastic bucket, in the hopes of finding that second pair of explosive footwear.  I know it's been 9 years since the last one showed up, but you would be crazy to think those Al-Qaeda boys haven't at least slapped together a few extra pairs by now.

Also remove your belt, your watch, your glasses, your coins, your jewelry, and place that in another bucket.  Remove your laptop from its case and place it in another bucket.  If you're lucky enough to fly during the cold months, put your coat, gloves and hat in yet another bucket.

After pushing all your buckets into the x-ray viewer, so that another member of the TSA elite secutiry squad can attempt to identify the contents of your carry-on items via the x-ray scan, you now try to pass through the metal detector.  Beep.  Oops, I forgot my wedding ring.  Sorry, I'll try again.  Beep.  Oops, two pennies in my other pocket.  Sorry, I'll try again. Beep. Oops, did I forget to mention the metal plate in my head?

As far as the x-ray scan of my shoes, jacket, I assume the guy can recognize what he is looking at, unless your bag is anything like my wife's purse.  But I'm fairly certain that, if they can make out the words "Light Here" on anything, you are a shoe-in for the "additional screening" area.

Perhaps they will one day find the cartoon bomb they're looking for (the black sphere with fuse on top and the word "BOMB" stenciled in big white letters on the side).  Just a guess on my part, but don't you think explosive devices have developed beyond these bulky, light-and-hurl devices?  Especially considering the quasi-sophistication of last Christmas and the Panty Bomber's smoldering underwear.

The list of forbidden liquids, gels, and creams is long, and are only allowed on board if carried in several small bottles.  Size indeed matters, even if the contents do not.  TSA agents must indeed receive very special training to visually ascertain the volatility of a compound. If that doesn't make you feel safer, I don't know what would.

I recall from my school years that five small bottles of explosive chemicals added together still equals one large bottle of explosive chemicals. The terrorist will have to mix all his small bottles together if he wants to blow up something as large as an airplane.  How inconvenient for them.  I'm sure some liberal rights group will file a discrimination suit over this.

Neither cigarette lighters (unless they don't work) nor more than three books of matches are allowed. And just forget about trying to slip the two-inch fingernail clipper/nail file combo past TSA's vigilant watch, but scissors are welcomed if 4-inches or shorter.  A Phillips head screwdriver is perfectly fine, provided it's not longer than 7 inches and not in your pocket.

I feel safer already, because the tip of the screwdriver can be sterilized with the matches before being plunged into the temple of the co-pilot, and we all know of the infectious nature of puncture wounds.

For the final test of one's airplane worthiness, it's time to choose - would you prefer the exposure to small doses of radiation, or the "handful of crotch" technique? These are the most recent additions to the TSA's impenetrable safety net.

The zeal with which these "highly trained" (they know how to turn on the machine) "security professionals" (they get paid) display can only come with the excitement and expectation of preventing the next in-flight disaster.

Either that, or getting their name in the company newsletter by being the first TSA agent in history to actually prevent an in-flight disaster.  Since 2001, the boys in the TSA are still batting 0.000, and with the new pat-down regulations, you can tell the competition is becoming more intense.

After the grueling security sweep, you are now in the "secured area" from which you cannot exit without facing the entire ordeal again.  Finding your gate of departure (always the one furthest away), it is here where you are allowed the experience of an hour-long wait in crowded, noisy, uncomfortable surroundings.

Checking the schedule, you discover your flight is facing a "slight delay" (perhaps due to the weather or the "enhanced security" at the other end).  While you seek solstice in the wonderful airport bar and their $5 lukewarm beer, you remind yourself how glad you are that you rushed to arrive an hour early

Finally your plane arrives, or at least you assume it to be here, since everyone leaps to their feet in order to be first in line to board.  Seeing the haggard faces of the departing passengers should remind you of the ordeal you will soon face, but you board the crowded flight anyway.

As you move towards your seat, you once again hope there might actually be empty space in the overhead to stow your carefully screened carry-on luggage.  But, alas, the "experienced" travelers have taken up all available overhead space with their two-wheeled steamer trunks.

This means that your laptop must now be checked, which the flight attendant hurriedly reminds you of.  In the back of your mind, you ponder the important data stored on your laptop, the last time it was backed up, and its impending destruction at the hands of these oh-so-careful suitcase jugglers.

After a slight delay while everyone waits on that one guy who is always late (enhanced security, no doubt) you get the obligatory seat belt, aisle lighting, and monkey-hat oxygen mask instructional presentation, as well as the stern warning about lighting one up in the toilet.

Of course, if you wanted to disable the smoke alarm, you could carry enough tools on the plane to get the job done - provided none exceed 7 inches in length.  And some find it comforting to know that, even though your flight path will not cross any known body of water, your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device.

You are finally ready to take off, wanting only to recline your seat, check out that new Sky Mall catalog, and get comfortable.  But comfort is a relative term, and the next hour and a quarter of your life is spent being coughed and sneezed upon by the large sweaty gentleman seated next to you, obviously suffering from some terminal and contagious respiratory ailment.

Besides sharing his germs with you, this guy should have be sharing half of your ticket, since his corpulent frame occupies half of your seat as well as his own. And who knew the person in the window seat has some type of bladder problem or bowel syndrome, causing the need for seven trips to the toilet on an hour flight? Again, there's always that $5 lukewarm beer (exact change only, please) to make that hour and a quarter flight to seem less like an eternity.  Somehow, scotch seems more appropriate.

And before you know it, the pilot's garbled voice comes over the  begin your final decent, knowing it will soon be time to fight your way off the plane behind the multitude of rude "its all about me" passengers, who can't even wait for the plane to stop before they bolt up and dive into the overhead storage to retrieve their precious cargo.

After retrieving your laptop, you arrive at the baggage claim area, where it is only when the carousel stops do you discover your suitcase didn't make the flight. Well, at least when they do find it, it is delivered to your hotel at no additional charge, other than the fee you already paid for your checked baggage. And there is usually a drug store nearby that will sell you everything you need that evening, which is why you so carefully packed it for your trip that morning.

Finding the car rental counter, you accept the bright green sub-compact, since they messed up your reservation and you don't feel like fighting anymore.  You finally arrive at your hotel, magically whisked to your destination a mere 5 grueling hours from when you left your house.

And all of this for the "convenience" of not having to drive the 4 hours from Houston to Dallas.  Am I missing something here?

No comments:

Post a Comment

something on your mind?