I Feel Much Safer Now…

I’m sitting at the Atlanta airport as I write this, on my way to Washington D.C. for RubyConf 2004 and I am not happy. First, I tried to check my one bag at the AirTran counter outside the terminal, but was told I couldn’t. No reason given. Then I went inside and queued up at the end of an enormous queue. After a minute or so, one of the guys who had been working the outside counter came in, saw me, and told me to go to a much shorter line. I did so, and was promptly accosted by a bitchy AirTran worker who told me to go back to the other line. I said “So why did the skycap tell me to get in this one?” “I ‘on’t kno,” was the response. She then ambled off to harass some more passengers. So, still in the short line, I make it to the counter very quickly, only to have the lady behind this counter say “This line is for people who already have boarding passes.” I ask her the same question, but she was most helpful and took me anyway. Very nice.

I then walk into the security area, noticing that there is virtually no line at all. When I present my id and boarding pass to the TSA guy, he tells me to follow him. He deposits me in a glass cattle chute with about 100 other people, hands me my pass, turns and leaves without another word. I quickly find out that I have been “randomly selected” to get man-handled by the TSA. I ended up waiting 40 minutes, 40 bloody minutes to get to the screening area. Several of the TSA members were downright rude, apparently drunk with power. After going through the metal detector, a TSA guy picks up my bag and the tray with my laptop, phone, etc, and takes it to yet another station. I am commanded to sit down by one asshole, who then heads off, presumably to bark at someone else.

My TSA handler then says “I’m gon’ search yo bag,” to which I respond, “OK…” as if I could refuse. Another handler then walk up, telling me what yoga poses to assume while he wands me. Then I get frisked. At this point the woman says “I’m gon’ test yo bag,” to which I respond, “OK….” She swiped some sort of cloth inside the bag, ambled off, then came back and told me that I was “free to go.” Thanks, let me take that perp walk again….

The Federal government, specifically the TSA, is doing everything it can to destroy air travel in this country. This “random screening” bullshit is nothing more than a touchy-feelie feel-good show. There are only two descriptions of people who should be screened:

  • people who look Arab or have Arab names
  • people who look Muslim or have Muslim names

Screw what people might think about gasp! “profiling.” The only people (and I use that word loosely) who are trying to commit terrorist acts against the United States are Muslims and Arabs. That’s it. I defy anyone to prove otherwise. (And don’t tell me that Timothy McVeigh was a “white Christian.”) If Muslims and Arabs don’t like the scrutiny, then they need to start cleaning house with their own people. Forcing little old ladies and mild-mannered software developers to submit to this indignity does nothing to make the skies safer. All it does is piss off people like me and make me hate flying even more than I already do.

I used to love flying, but now I generally avoid it. I’m not alone. Some of the other people chosen to get the TSA Screw-Job were saying that they only fly if the drive is more than 6 hours. I’m in the same camp.

On the upside, my flight pushed back from the jetway at precisely the time specified, and then 10 minutes later we were in the air. We then landed 30 minutes before the specified time on the ticket. Wow. I then rode some enormous double-wide bus to get to baggage claim, which was interesting. A quick ride to the Enterprise rental agency, then a 15 minute drive, and I’m at my hotel. Now to relax…