Air travel isn’t the fashionable adventure it used to be. Not in the U.S., anyway.
It has a lot to do with airline deregulation (name one airline that isn’t in Chapter 11 bankruptcy) and plunging profit margins. The excitement of flying also suffered on Sept. 11, 2001.
Because after four aircraft came tumbling from the skies at the hands of terrorists, we became ultra-anal about security.
No more pocket knives on planes (the terrorists, it is known, used box cutters). Ditto, for several years, corkscrews, tweezers, small scissors and cuticle removers.
We also came to know the TSA - the Transportation Security Administration.
Also known as Total Spazzes and Assholes.
I’m trying to board a flight from Sacramento to Omaha last week (the reason while this blog isn’t as fresh as it could be) and the TSA is helping to protect me (one minimum wage worker at a time). Think I’m kidding? There’s one person checking boarding passes and I.D.s before we can ride the escalator up to the gates. There are at lease 50 people in line.
Once I’ve proved I’m who I say I am, it’s time to go through the metal detectors; that is, as you remove your shoes, unpack your laptop and send everything through the scanners.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out the shoes thing. We can put two robots on Mars, but we can’t figure out how to tell is someone packed C4 into their Keds?
It’s 4:50 a.m. and the kindly TSA worker is yelling at me.
“That’s going to beep.”
I’m in the process of emptying everything in my pockets into the little bin.
“You’re going to beep”
Shoes into the bin (Why the fuck did I wear my hiking boots?)
“Sir, you’re going to beep.”
“Could you complete your sentence and tell my why,” I said.
“You’re belt, that’s going to beep.”
Off goes my dangerous leather belt. All the while this is going on, the TSA employee on the other side of the detector is trying to wave me through.
“Right this way, let’s go.”
It’s too much, too early in the morning. I’m now half-nekked, hopefully sans metal and I walk through the gate. I’m somewhat scattered.
“Dude, how much do you bench press?” the guy asks.
“I dunno, 325?” (always lie on the side of big).
“That’s what I thought. Here’s you stuff.”
Then it’s on to the cattle cars, or coach class. The 757-300 has room for 243 passengers; only 12 of which will have any sort of room in first class. The rest of us are squeezed three to a row, with two rows running down the length of the plane. I go like 58 inches across the chest; broad shoulders. I feel like mooing.
There’s a big guy in the window seat; I have the aisle (where my shoulder will be smacked numerous times by the stewardess’, who will never say “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me.”)
We cautiously wonder - out loud - is the flight will be full. It is.
A hefty older gal walks up, looks at her ticket, looks at us and says, “Looks like I have a first-class ticket between two hunky guys.”
Before she can make small talk - she and Mr. Window Seat chat the entire time - I slip on my iPod ear buds.
And spend the next hour and 34 minutes with my elbow in this lady’s tits.
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