Take Off Your Shoes and Say Aack

“Make sure your seat backs are in the upright position and that your tray tables are locked.”

Mary and I fly Southwest Airlines. The attendants are friendly (if just a little loud), it’s efficient, and it’s cheap. We are not frequent travelers but we just got back from a family reunion in Corolla on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It seems that whoever delivers the safety orientation has a voice amplified to a volume that is capable of cutting steel. Jamming fingers in the ears barely lowers the volume. I’ve run quieter chainsaws.

The gauntlet that one has to run to get jammed into a seat only a crash dummy would not complain about. Security is a haphazard affair. On the way east out of Smurf International (AKA SMF-Sacramento), the fine folks of the Transportation Safety Administration had backed up the morning flyers a couple hundred yards (mind you we had arrived two hours in advance of our flight). These people make Mack Sennett‘s Keystone Cops seem organized. Apparently, someone eventually realized that if they scanned each bag for five minutes 95% of the passengers would miss their flights and they (the TSA people not the passengers) would lose their phony-baloney jobs. So a conveyor belt that had looked like it was being run by an arthritic supermarket checker roared into hyperdrive. Our bags shot out the scanner’s opening like particles from the super-collider. We’d forgotten to take out the liquids and I’d left my pen knife in my backpack. No matter. They weren’t noticing anything besides Uzis and light artillery.

On the return trip to Smurf International, the TSA person at Baltimore had me adjust my driver’s license in my wallet (while also trying to hold my shoes, liquids, and laptop) in order to check the expiration date. Good to know that they’re now enforcing traffic laws, though what the expiration date has to do with confirming my identity eludes me. Terrorists can’t create a fake ID with a valid date? I’m not the person in the picture on the day after my license expires?

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