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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Have a Nice Flight: Airport Peepshow

by Lad C. Hudac

What you are about to read is true…

The names have been changed to be more appropriate...

This is a tale about an individual’s struggle against the fear-mongering forces of the collectivist state.

It is a short tale, but it carries a message that will resonate with millions.

The Cast of Characters:

Gatekeeper – Height: unknown from a sitting position. Adept with a hologram illuminating flashlight, and quick to mark up a boarding pass with any weird squiggly or zig-zag that might make the amateur terrorist nervous.

Gestapo Member #1 – A tall, older man with thinning grey hair, a shiny badge, and a sense of no nonsense urgency about him.

Gestapo Member #2 – Rotund. 35–40 years old. Goatee and proud owner of multiple chins. Very possible that GM #2 read Mark Sisson’s lesser-known book, The Primal Demeanor.

Gestapo Female – Mid 40’s. Quick with the x-ray bag scanner, and even quicker to rummage through the bag of anyone who raises a red flag.

Me – An open-minded, free-thinking, individual. Who, with the help of other freedom lovers, has become a well-established seer of all things "bogus" with anything our central government tries to force the masses to do.

Our story begins on a balmy Midwestern morning in Columbus, OH. I had planned a short getaway to New York City for an overdue visit with a very good friend. I arrived at the airport early because I had known about the addition of the X-Ray "backscatter" machines just a month before. I knew anything was possible, especially since I was going to refuse to be the subject of a peep show should I be asked.

Few people are aware that Columbus is well known in some circles for being one of the top test markets in the country for the fast food industry. Columbus has a diverse demographic; the people here come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds. If someone in a fast food test kitchen develops a snappy new dish, off to Columbus it goes! (fingers and clogged arteries crossed)

So it didn’t surprise me that the TSA would choose Columbus as a "test market" for their nudi-booth scanners, since many of the TSA employees most likely got their start making barely edible food, fast.

(Writer’s note: Based upon multiple years with a large fast food corporation, I possess a self-issued license to mock those in the industry, as well as the industry itself.)

As I neared the labyrinth of ropes that one must navigate before the inquisition begins, I briefly thought of the line that forms before any good roller coaster. Unfortunately, this time I didn’t have the option of purchasing a funnel cake once the ride was over. Many people were being herded into the line like cattle in a stockyard. I took a deep breath, channeled my inner bovine, and fell in like a good boy.

At the end of the labyrinth, sitting atop his state-issued stool, resting his upper body on his state-issued podium, loomed the Gatekeeper. As I approached him, pangs of frustration and annoyance began to well up from deep within my being. The years of reading the words of freedom icons such as Rockwell, Paul, Shaffer and Suprynowicz (among many, many others), had made me allergic to anything that the state has tried to do. I have often attempted to speak to anyone who would listen about the concept of free will, individualism, and love for the fellow man. Four years ago, it felt as if everyone was aurally challenged, but after the economic collapse, the very one that Ron Paul and others of the "Austrian" mind forecasted, I started to sense the tides turning a bit in the favor of freedom. There are more people questioning the necessity of the census, more people wondering where money actually comes from, more people questioning the propagandistic saber rattling found on all cable news channels. Simply put, more people asking good questions!

I reached the front of the line and the Gatekeeper took a long look at my ID and boarding pass. My first name, Ladislaus, always trips them up. It is not a normal name, like "Steve" or "Bob." I believe I am often asked a banal question just to hear if I have an accent. This time was no different.

"Off to New York, Huh?"

"Yes, sir."

(Long, intense look into my eyes)

"Enjoy your trip."

Then, three squiggles on the boarding pass, and I was given passage to the next layer of the Inferno.

I had mentally prepared for what I was to see next. Mr. Rockwell had posted a blog a few days prior about this very same set up. To the left of me was the standard metal detector, and on the right, the infamous "backscatter radiation" machine. To my slight surprise, there were many people who seemed very interested in testing the new security device. I mentioned earlier that the freedom movement was catching on, but we still have a lot of work to do! There is always a bit of a sting that accompanies the "real-world" realization that not everyone reads the LRC Blog.

I walked a direct line to the metal detector side and began the obtrusive process of becoming "metal detector friendly." I watched as my shoes, belt, cell phone, loose change, ring, laptop, laptop battery, keys, and carry-on bags worked their way down the conveyor belt while I awaited passage through the metal detector.

At this point, Gestapo Member #1 called out to me.

"Sir, this line over here is open; you are welcome to walk through this one."

I adamantly responded, "No thank you. I do not wish to travel through that line."

He replied more intensely, "You are declining the search?"

"Yes, sir, I am."

At this point he spoke into his shoulder mounted radio and said, "Male full body search!"

He then turned to me and said rather sternly, like a father who wasn't messing around, "Wait here."

So I waited, for about three minutes. In the mean time, they had found "something" in the x-ray process of my carry-on. Gestapo Lady shouted, "Whose bag is this? Whose bag is this?!"

I leaned over the divider and told her it was mine, and that I was awaiting a pat-down.

Gestapo Member #2 then approached. He wore blue surgical gloves and a smirk on his face. Something about him told me he was not the president of the chess club during his youth.

He said to me, "You know this would go a lot quicker if you would only stand in the backscatter machine and be done with it."

"I will not do that, sir. I still possess my dignity. No one will be seeing anything through my clothes."

"Well, now I have to touch you all over your body, will you still have dignity then?"

"Do what you have to, but I will never walk through that machine."

The pat-down station was out in the open and facing a restaurant. I was told to stretch out my arms and stand still. People looked up from their breakfast to observe the action. I couldn’t help but think that those who resisted were subject to an attempted public demoralization. Of course, I had yet to retrieve my belt; so my shorts nearly fell off when he pulled on them. At least 20 people now know what sort of underwear I prefer.

"Now I am going to pat down your crotch." At this moment, something inside of me snapped. I have read hundreds of tales of woe from fellow freedom lovers over the years, tales of run-ins with the tax feeding pestilence of the state. I have felt for these people, but I have never truly understood the feeling until this very moment. As his meat hooks groped for phantom weaponry, my face flushed, and I seethed. I then reminded myself to remain calm and stoic. I saw no reason to get detained or even worse, tased.

I took a deep breath and remembered that humor is really the only medicine for me in awkward situations like these. I nearly commented about his touch being similar to my prom date. I thought against it though, having faith that this nightmare would be over soon.

After he realized I wasn't hiding any weapons of death, or so much as a sharpened pencil, I was made to sit down and await the full search of my carry-on bag.

They swabbed it for explosive material…

They then scanned it again…

What was the BIG FIND?

I had neglected to remove a 3 oz. container of face lotion. Yes, a desire for a moisturized face does not happy a Gestapo member make.

Gestapo Lady tersely said to me, "Sir, are you aware that there is a bottle of lotion in your bag?"

"No, I am sorry; I forgot it was in there, but interesting that you knew it was a bottle of lotion and not something else."

She said nothing to that comment, but then spritely told me, "I am going to scan your bag again so you can quickly be on your way."

The 3rd x-ray of my bag yielded no red flags.

"Here you are. Have a great flight."

I had no response.

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