Sunday, September 05, 2004

Fly The Friendly Skies. Not!

I'm traveling this week for the first time since they really got serious (read completely paranoid) about security. When I went to check in, the counter agent promptly told me "Oh, your on the list!" The meaning of this soon became clear as my bag had to go through special explosives screening, and when I got to the checkpoint I had to take off my belt and shoes, and thought I was going to be strip searched. All this is probably because Southwest wouldn't construe my itinerary as a "round trip", but as three separate trips. I'll probably get the same on the next two legs also.

They really tunneled in on my shoes (ordinary clogs) and my laptop (an X30). The farce is that I also had a GPS, cell phone, my new APC fits-anything power supply, Palm PDA, and enough wire, cables and connectors to have supplied the RNC. Enough electronic crap for a dozen "devices". (Have to be careful about tripping word filters here). I left the pocket knife I've carried for 35 years, my Comdex freebie two-headed screwdriver, and the Leatherman Squirt P4 on my keychain at home. Like there aren't endless other things in my carry-on that couldn't be used with lethal intent.

The scary part of this relates to the panic at LAX yesterday. I've done almost the same thing as the guy who (probably forgot his sunglasses and) went up the down escalator, triggering all the alarms. I got some bad directions from a gate agent on one trip, and found myself on the escalator leaving the secured zone. Realizing that wasn't where I needed to be, I turned around and went up the adjacent staircase, never going through the door that marked the security zone exit. The rent-a-cop checkers (pre-9/11) started shouting at me, and I told them to get stuffed. One then followed me for 15 minutes while I tried to find the counter I really needed. Finally LAPD showed up, and fortunately were reasonable about listening to my explanation. Today, I expect they would have appeared with full body armor, automatic weapons, and bad attitudes.

I hope I'm not quite as harmless looking as Bea Arthur, but I hardly think I fit anyone's typical terrorist profile. And I really hate to think I'm being classed with Ted Kennedy!


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