Sunday, June 27, 2010


Travel Sucks Already...
To The Lifeguard, a man with forty-plus years of domestic and international travel under his belt, flying anywhere blows. Not only does he have to deal with myriad fares and senseless restrictions when purchasing his ticket, he also has to worry about overweight passengers shoe-horned into one seat (when they should have two...or a gastric by-pass), paying $25.00 for the privilege of checking a suitcase, and a complete lack of anything once the wheels are safely locked in the upright position.

Now, the TSA, the people who brought you long lines at security and two-hour pre-flight waits in barren airports now bring you...longer lines at security and three-hour pre-flight waits in even more barren airports. One might think that between the airlines and the TSA, the goal is to deter terrorism by deterring people from flying at all.

Certainly, weeding out the morons who fly would be okay with The Lifeguard. (Really, any family that wears matching lime green T-shirts to travel should probably just go Greyhound. The Lifeguard saw you at BWI security, you know who y'all are.) In fact, The Lifeguard would be happy to see some means by which the traveling herd is thinned.

Perhaps an additional question--verified by the ticket kiosk or agent--about the frequency of travel.

Agent: "Sir, have you been given any items by a stranger?"

Lifeguard: "No."

Agent: "Have you flown more than ten times in the past two years?"

Lifeguard: "No."

Agent: "I'm sorry. Wait, it says here that you have flown over 400,000 miles in your lifetime. Please go directly to our special security line."

But, no....

The TSA, the people who brought us bare feet at security, laptops taken out of their cases, and 3/1/1 have now brought us...


This magnificent device, purchased with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds aims to prevent terrorists from getting on the airplane by preventing terrorists (and everyone else) from ever getting through security.

What The Lifeguard means is that these babies cause such a drag at security that absolutely no one gets through in time to make their flight. If we can't stop the Richard Reids of the world from sneaking bombs onto planes, we'll stop everyone.

The millimeter wave scanners, also known as "naked scanners", are highly sensitive devices that detect concealed weapons by showing security personnel a virtual naked picture of the traveler. Sadly, in order for the geniuses at TSA to see the weapons, one is required to remove shoes (still), belt, watch, wallet, change, and any other items on one's person. It would be faster (and more effective) to simply ask the traveler to please place his weapon on the table before going through the checkpoint.

Recently, The Lifeguard encountered the new technology at BOS (and later, at BWI). In each instance, an additional five minutes was tacked on to The Lifeguard's wait at the checkpoint, leading The Lifeguard to conclude that a strip search would be faster.

The Lifeguard hates waiting at airports, and has been known to do a Full OJ (running through airports, jumping obstacles) in order to make his flight. So, the millimeter wave-occasioned delay at BOS was an unwelcome discovery. And, after the audible gasps from the back room (and the ensuing strip search by eight female TSA personnel, and a TSA guy called Bruce), he finally got to his flight.

On the return trip, the machine at BWI didn't work, after a half-dozen attempts to make it go.

This, after removing everything.

Shit, if the technology is so good, then why can't the machine tell the difference between, say, a watch and a Sig Sauer P226? A shoe and a shoe bomb? A belt and a box cutter?

The Lifeguard is going to have to discuss this with someone.

Maybe Bruce, when he takes The Lifeguard out for dinner and drinks next Friday.

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