Between the corporate greed from the airlines and the paramilitary security from the TSA, flying is becoming more of an ordeal every day. Recently, Sharon and I had to go to Atlanta. Sharon had read the rules about carry-on on the web and had packed all her make-up in small 100 ml containers. Apparently the local TSA chapter had other ideas and as we passed through the screening devices, we were singled out for special treatment.
“Is this your bag?” a very butchy female guard asked
“yes” I answered
She began to open the small carry-on bag and remove everything from it including noise reduction earphones, my camera, and finally she honed in on the toiletries bag. She removed the clear plastic 1-liter bag, held it up to the light and inspected it visually. She then opened it and began to remove the items one by one separating them from the rest of the stuff.
“Thats my mascara!” said Sharon. “What’s wrong with that?”
“Its a potential weapon” she responded in a very authoritative voice
“Those are all in the right size containers! What are you doing?” said Sharon who began to get very annoyed with this little Nazi.
“SUPERVISOR!!!” yelled the security agent.
A very large overweight man with a hawkish face suddenly appeared and placed himself between Sharon and the female security guard. He placed his fists on the desk, resting on his knuckles and addressed Sharon.
“Ma-am, do you not know the regulations concerning bringing carry-on containers on the aircraft?” He was talking in a deliberate slow voice which one used when speaking to idiots.
“I know the regulations. I read them on your web site” responded Sharon
“ the regulations are posted on our web site” he said. He then lifted his right fist of the desk and pointed his finger to the very small space between his fierce little eyes. “Look at me and listen to me very carefully” he said with his finger still pointing to his eyes. “ The regulations concerning bringing liquids on the aircraft are posted on our web site and in the lobby.”
“ I know that” said sharon. “I read them before boarding”
“Ma-am, you are not listening to me!” he said still using slow-talk-to-the-moron official-speak
“It clearly says that 100 ml containers are allowed and says absolutely nothing about mascara being forbidden because it is a potential weapon. Why are you removing all my make-up?”
Still pointing his fat little finger between his eyes he said “all containers must be no larger than 100 mls …
“I know that!” said Sharon
“..and they must be placed together in a 1-liter clear plastic zip lock bag.” he said triumphantly.
“Like this one” said Sharon lifting up the 1-liter clear plastic zip-lock bag that the first female guard had previously emptied.
He picked it up and examined it for a few moments and then affirmed. “Yes. This is a 1-liter clear plastic zip lock bag.’
”And if I put all these containers in it, that is OK” said Sharon.
Sharon lifted up the bag and placed all the 100 ml containers including the “potential weapon” mascara into the bag and put it in front of his face.
“ can I go now?”
The threat to airline security was abated. We can all breath a sigh of relief.
EPILOG: I have nothing against the TSA. They are only doing their job. The problem lies with those schmucks who make the rules. This task is done in a pseudo-military style without regard for the respect of the public it is trying to serve. These are the same guys who responded so well to the initial warnings of 9/11, reacted so swiftly to hurricane Katrina, and have planned the occupation of Iraq with such pristine precision.
The downfall of our wonderful society will come from within. It will be exacerbated by idiots who are placed into positions for which they have absolutely no expertise and subsequently delegated to uniformed henchmen with more authority than brains.