Monday, June 27, 2011


They call it Security Theatre. (who does?  this guy.  You would screen him too.) 

I have gotten quite savvy about the jetway baggage check.  After all, the bag I bought says it fits in the overhead.  And before we de-regulated everything into Teeny Weeny Airlines, it did.  And the airlines insist on charging for baggage claim, so to hell with them.  I am happy to check at the jetway.


Until your booking agent does not realize that she has you transferring from one TERMINAL to another (and another airline) in an airport where the terminals are not connected.  In 60 minutes.  The real drama is me unable to find my destination on the Departure board at all and trying to find a gate agent who could help me.  By the way, USAirways, if you give me a boarding pass that says USAirways on it, and the flight is abbreviated as UA###, how would I know that is United Airlines?  I started this journey at 5am; I can't be held responsible.

More like Security Grand Opera.
I run - from Terminal 1 to the "Air Train," (so you know it's already over), but I make it to Terminal 3 with 15 minutes to spare, except.

Except that at this airport you have to go through security again.  Do you hear me, America?  And I now know I will miss this connection.  Long-time readers (of this blog and my life) know that I have learned to call the customer service line while standing in the customer service line.  (robots are replacing you all) So I get rebooked for 2 hours later and begin to wonder... where is my suitcase going to go?

No one in America has a job, but there are always 15 TSA agents at any given security line.  1st one says, it's OK to go through on my missed boarding pass, since I am getting the new one at the gate, and as long as the pass is for today, it's OK.  so put that in your information bank for your next heist.  Write a screenplay around it.  2nd agent says that the line is breaking into 3 lines, and I am in the longest one, but I am free to choose any one.

What kind of walk-on line is this?  "You are free to choose any one."

Agent 3 is having trouble with his spy flashlight that makes a hologram on your license.  He is waiting for batteries, so in the meantime, he is asking people to confirm their last names (because that is totally the same thing).  Agent 4 is getting the batteries.

Agent 5 is screening my bag -- which contains one half full (half empty?) bottle of WATER.  I wish I could display that in spooky font.  My home computer would do that.

"Whose is this?" asks Miss Marple, and delicately draws out my suspicious article with a 2-fingered grip.
I immediately say (still wearing the belt I also forgot to remove), "Oh right -- I didn't expect to go through security between terminals.  Just take it."

And she says, "I'll just pour it out here."
"Can I keep the bottle at least?"  I say... looking like a harried business traveller in jeans that don't fit and NOT my attention-getting new bra.

Suddenly, even TSA Marple realizes that her "just pouring it out" does not justify her existence, so she says, "I am going to bring it over here and test it, then pour out the liquid and you can have the bottle."

Whatever, Trixie Belden.  I have 2 hours now.   (I call this one "Trixie scores some weed.")

We step aside and she stands back, and asks me to open the bottle, please.  Then she swabs it with something I probably shouldn't drink behind, pours out the water (still 2 fingered, so careful.  She would have done it with her pencil if the thing had only had a trigger) and invited me to replace the cap.

The day is not over.  I have another hour to wait -- another hour for my bag (which has fallen out of my possession) to find a new friend in Eugene.  My biggest worry then is what I will wear tomorrow.  But we'll panic about that when we have to.  I don't mind making a concierge find something appropriate in a college town on a Monday night.

They have theatre of their own.  

More Security Theatre from the archives:

Early security theatre at Guilt-Ridden Logan Airport
My personal TSA story, which ends here, but tags back to the beginning
Airports respond to new standards

1 comment:

  1. Thank goodness they tested your suspicious water! TSA was going to destroy my mother's liquid medication for her breathing equipment, but another rational agent stopped that. But of course there was a full patdown for 79 year old Mom in a wheelchair. Sorry for your travel woes.


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