Thursday, December 02, 2010

Holiday Travels (Part I)


This year, in an effort to minimize travel time, I choose to fly to my Holiday destination – a decision I would question later.

I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors about the latest, invasive, TSA screening procedures – given only to select travelers (i.e. me). That’s right, after essentially disrobing down to my socks, I was diverted from the standard metal detector line and into the chamber of desecration, whereupon my body was subjected to radiation and electronic inhalation, to be scrutinized by a voyeur sequestered in a secret sound-proof room (to stifle the laughter, I presume). All the while, I was trying to maintain visual contact with my belongings as they rolled along through security without me.

The TSA officer then asked me to step out of the chamber and directed me to stand on little yellow footprints painted on a black rubber mat. The officer then redirected his (or her – I really couldn’t tell) attention to the lady who had passed through the chamber before me. Via a shoulder-mounted two-way radio, the officer informed someone that the woman’s pants included decorative sewn-on buttons near each hip. As this exchange took place the woman looked at me with disbelief. With my hands still in the air and an eye on my belongings (which continued to merrily roll along), I gave her a “don’t-say-a-word-we’re-breaking-outta-here-tonight-via-the-sewer-system-so-you’re-gunna-have-to-crawl-through-some-stuff-you-won’t-wanna-talk-about-afterwards” look back. She got the message. Another few awkward moments passed, then the woman was finally cleared.

The TSA officer then turned his/her attention to me. A little electronic chatter spurned the officer to ask me what I had in my front left pocket. I pulled my eyes from my belongings (which were enjoying themselves at the concourse bar and grille) and asked if I may drop my hands. “Yes,” he/she replied. I slipped my hand into my pocket and discovered a familiar object. Damn, I thought, this is going to incite further probing. I pulled it out and revealed it to the officer, “It’s the key to my truck.” One key attached to a remote, this might just shut down the airport. I cringed.

The officer repeated my words over the radio. Then slipped his/her hand into my pocket. Hello! Once satisfied my pocket was clear of anything inorganic, the officer wrapped both rubber-gloved hands around my left thigh, then slid them up to my groin. Am I going to have to leave a tip? I wondered. Not unless there’s a happy ending, I convinced myself.

The officer then stood back and said, “You’re okay,” and waved me on. You don’t know me very well, I thought.

I caught up to my belongings just before they boarded the plane.

Fortunately, the airline I was flying permits passengers to select their seats when they check-in online. I chose a window seat (I’m easily amused with windows). As I approached my row I discovered the only row on the plane without windows was mine. “There’s my ‘window’ seat,” I mused to the other two passengers seated in my row. They looked at the windowless wall and chuckled, then began ribbing me about my prowess at seat selection.

“Don’t be so quick to laugh,” I warned them, “I just drank a liter of beer and I have an overactive bladder.” They eyed me uneasily.

I sat back and waited for the flight attendant to drone her way through the safety instructions. Only an hour and a half and I’ll be at my destination, or so I thought. Unknown to us, another plane had decided to circle back after experiencing mechanical difficulties. We waited on the tarmac for another half hour. I stared at my missing window as I wondered why the airlines are so paranoid about mp3 players during takeoff and landing. Last I checked, my mp3 player doesn’t have aileron controls (and “shuffle” doesn’t seem to scoot the plane down the runway either).

A baby began wailing, or was it my psyche. This is how my vacation attempted to get off the ground.

(more to follow)

Copywrite 2010 Rick Rantamaki

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