I never would have thought my first blog post would be about air travel. I imagined my first post would be about monkeys, or ninjas, or ninja monkeys. Possibly even something less silly like what to do when attacked by a deadly goat, or how to stop Virginia Thomas from leaving you voicemails. You know, relevant shit.
But no, thanks to the rampant idiocy of the Totally Stupid Assholes (TSA) at my local airport, I will be waxing a scatological diatribe about security checkpoints.
I realize that because my name (my actual name, not some made-up pseudonym to protect my pseudo-privacy), is plastered all over this blog that I may be setting myself up for future hassles with the aforementioned government agency by complaining about my most recent experience. But you know what, d-bags? That’s what the First Amendment is for. So suck it.
Though you may not believe it having read the preceding vitriol, I am actually not an angry person. I am a mellow, often silly person and, generally speaking, an optimist. I tend to think the best of people first, and then let their actions from that point forward prove me right or wrong. In fact, it takes so much to get me pissed off, that when it does happen, it’s usually pretty noteworthy. (I also love to use commas, A LOT).
So, having established those tidbits about myself, I now relate the events of earlier today.
I travel frequently. I mean, I have this travel shit down. I pride myself on my ability to zip through security like a healing zephyr of Zen-like fluidity. I wear no belt, my shoes are slip-on, I don’t have any heavy metal (DIO!) jewelry, and I place every loose article from my pockets in my carry-on bag, so no need for those ridiculous dog-bowls for keys and change. I even have my lap-top out and ready to be binned. I get up to the x-ray belt, and in a seamless motion, shoes in one bin, computer in the next, followed by my modest roller-board (suitcase with wheels) and finally my carry-on. I step to the metal-detector, the security guy waves me through, and I walk soundlessly to the other side. I have never had a bag-check. I have never had a pat-down. I. Am. Awesome.
But today… today Stupid decided to strike in all its brutish glory.
At first, all was gravy. I got up to the belt, using the old routine; everything is up and making its happy way through the scanner. I stepped through the detector, no beep as usual and then I made my way confidently over to the end other end of the scanner to collect my things. Then it began, “Bag-check!” the guard barked.
I looked up, surprised, already in the process of reclaiming my shoes and laptop. What’s this? My roller-board hadn’t made it through. I see it paused on the guard’s screen in all its x-rayed glory. I gazed at the oddly rust-colored image of the contents of my suitcase. I stared soundly at it, wondering what on earth they were seeing that I wasn’t. I certainly knew that I hadn’t packed anything terrorist-y.
“Snow Globe!” the guard bellowed. Training her eye evenly at me, she asked, “Did you pack a snow globe?”
Yes, gentle-readers, it’s true. I had packed a snow globe; a one and a half inch tall, one inch diameter, snow globe with a Halloween theme. It was for my mother who I would be seeing this trip. Halloween is our favorite holiday, and it was just around the corner, ergo gift.
I nodded to the guard. I realized my folly. I should have put the thing in a Ziploc baggy because it was technically a liquid container. No worries, I thought to myself, it’s clearly less than 3 ounces of water, they’ll do the bag check, advise me of my error, gentle slap on the wrist, and then on we all merrily would go.
Yes, it was an inconvenience, but I wasn’t upset, or bothered. I had managed to make it through security without a single bag check for a very long time. I wasn’t late for my flight or anything, so I figured my streak had ended. No big.
The guard responsible for bag-checks came over and got my bag, and asked that I follow him a few steps to a table set up for the purpose.
“So there’s a snow globe in here?” he asked.
“You wanna tell me where it is so I don’t have to dig around too much?”
“Sure, it’s in the middle, directly under the corduroys.”
He rummaged a little and pulled the offending little thing out.
“You wanna go back to the ticketing desk and check this?”
“I’m sorry?” His question confused me. Check a tiny little snow-globe? As baggage?
“Or you could mail it to yourself,” he offered.
“Um, no that’s ok. I’ve got an empty Ziploc in the front pocket of my suitcase. Can’t I just put it in that?”
“They aren’t allowed.”
“But it’s less than 3 ounces of liquid.”
“Don’t matter. We can’t open it to check it. So it’s not allowed.”
“So… you want me to exit security, go all the way back to the ticketing counter, pay $25 to check a one-inch tall snow-globe, and then get back in the security line to wait another 40 minutes to get through again?”
“Or you could mail it to yourself.”
“Meaning I would again have to leave the security area, run around the airport trying to find a post office or something, pay to purchase the packing materials and postage, run back to the end of the security line and wait another 40 minutes to get through.”
“Or you give it up.”
“I didn’t realize novelty snow globes were such a threat.”
“I don’t make the rules. We can’t open it, so we can’t check it. It’s not allowed.”
“And yet the lady who just walked passed with her knitting needles is perfectly free to stab out as many eyes as she likes.”
“I don’t make the rules.”
“Yeah, I got that part.”
“Lady, what do you wanna do?”
I stared for a long moment at the little black cat and pumpkin figurines inside the globe, smiling cute little smiles, glitter swirling around their heads.
I looked back to the guard, who stared dumbly at me, “You know what? Keep it. Put it on your dash. My gift to you. Happy Halloween.”
“Uh-uh. This is going in the trash.”
I eyed him coolly. “You know what, bud? For some reason, I highly doubt that.”
“It is,” he replied.
“Well, just make sure that it stays there, and doesn’t find its way into the TSA Secret Santa party in December.”
“There’s no need to be rude.”
“Well, you tell the person who writes ‘the rules’ that there’s no need to be so willfully stupid. And I’ll tell my mom how much you’re going to enjoy the gift I bought her.”
And I walked away, and didn’t look back. It’s likely that the thing did end up in the trash (for now).
Frankly, it’s not the loss of the snow-globe that pissed me off, it the reason for the loss. The absolute stupidity behind the whole crap-tastic security gambit.
On the plane right now, as I type this, there is a woman knitting not two seats away from me. Now, obviously the art of knitting is not nefarious (mostly), but anyone who has ever watched the original Halloween knows that Jamie Lee Curtis stabs Michael Meyers in the eye with a knitting needle. It is not a leap of the imagination to think that a long, pointy metal object could be used as a weapon. And yet, we let these things on willy-nilly to airplanes.
What in the name of all that is sensical, could I have done with a tiny snow-globe that supersedes the threat of a long pointy thing?
Okay, sure, I suppose I could have filled it with acid, or a noxious liquid that turns to gas when exposed to air. I concede these possibilities. But I mean really? The same could be said of ANY liquid container, including travel-size shampoo bottles. Have you ever seen a TSA agent OPEN a travel-size Prell to check and see that it is actually Prell?
The “we can’t open it” argument is insupportable. Unless they are actually going to check every single container that comes through the security line, anyone with a nasty idea in their head could sneak in a small bottle of evil into an airport and onto a plane.
And, this just occurred to me, if I had known about the “Snow Globes Are EVIL” travel rule, I could have put the tiny thing in my pants pocket and waltzed through the metal detector and NO ONE WOULD HAVE KNOWN. So, there I would be, breaking the law for a holiday ornament. Can you imagine how easy it would be for an actual bad guy to do the same with actual bad stuff?
So what in the name of all that is Ronnie James Dio (DIO!) am I trying to say here?
Well…I know what I’m NOT saying. I’m NOT saying we shouldn’t have rules about what is safe to take on 230 foot-long passenger-filled fuselages with wings hurtling through the air at 555mph. I’m saying we should have some rules, and those rules should make at least a fart-load of sense, and not force children to have to throw their parents’ gifts in the trash!
Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go shopping for Festivus gifts for the TSA agents at my airport. I think I’ll get them all snow-globes.