Walking is Better

Once upon a time in a world long ago flying was a pleasure. From the moment you got to the airport to when you put your tush in your seat you were treated with respect and hospitality.

I was on my way to becoming a flight attendant for PanAm when all of a sudden it went belly-up. I wanted to see the world while hosting travelers on their planes. To this day there’s nothing I’d rather do than travel, that is until I get to security. Then it’s all out war. I refuse to go into the scanners. I’m convinced they’re a health hazard. New York TSA agents are the worse. They’re bullies. Well, I bully back, which throws them off their game. That’s when they threaten me with harsh pat downs. “Bring them on,” I say standing my ground and glowering back.

It seems to me airline travel is a burden to the airlines. I think they’d rather be transporting chickens than humans. At least chickens wouldn’t be a threat on board or try to commandeer a plane into mass destruction.  You’d just have to clean up a lot of feathers after every trip, but then you could diversify and go into making pillows.photo (90)

Flight attendants are tired and irritated with the long hours of the work day. Pilots no longer just fly the planes, they also do cabin clean-up in between stops. There’s no time for lunch. I’ve seen crews grab granola bars and wilted salads at the airports. They’re probably dehydrated, which explains their impatience with the public.  And the hours of cabin pressure I’m sure is stressing out their hearts and lungs. No wonder they’re angry. Nobody is taking care of anybody and it trickles down to the traveler who only wants a beer, a movie and a smooth trip home.

None of this, however excuses United from the abominable treatment of its passenger on the flight out of Chicago. I noticed that neither pilots or crew were involved in the incident, which was good otherwise if I had been on board I would have bolted off the flight, realizing I was in a horror movie. And then the airline would have had its empty seat.

Calvin says, “The friendly skies look troubled these days. Stick to walking.”  beagle

Super Hoopla

I went yesterday to see the Super Bowl hoopla at Moscone Center. The NFL had set up a huge staged exhibit that cost $35 a ticket.

Thousands poured inside.

I wasn’t among them. I’m not that kind of fan.

Prices have skyrocketed around this event to the point of shocking me.

For example, if you flew into San Francisco from Colorado or North Carolina on Saturday, stayed in an Airbnb for two nights, watched the game and left on Monday, it would cost you more than $7,000.

I suppose that’s nothing if you’re a millionaire, and I saw a lot of them yesterday.

It’s amazing what we’ll do for our favorite sport.

 

But the sight that was most extraordinary were the SWAT teams, the police presence, and the security agents roaming all over the area.

Frankly, I thought I was in another country.  Super Bowl

This couldn’t be the United States.

Yep, it was.

The security surrounding the Super Bowl rivals the stuff that happens when our president rolls into town for a fundraiser.

At one level you feel protected, but on another, it’s pretty darn scary.

I grew up in countries where heavily armed police, army tanks, and soldiers marched in and took possession of an entire city.

That was when there was a dictator running the country.

So what I witnessed yesterday sent shivers down my spine.

Calvin says, “Were any beagles sniffing NFL footballs?  beagle

 

Digging in with My Bare Heels

I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to submit to the full body scanners at the airport.

I’m convinced all that radiation is bad for my health no matter what reassurances we have been given.

So I waited my turn in line, barefooted, beltless and breathless. I moved closer to the dreaded machine.

When it was my turn, I said, “No!” with conviction.

“No?” said the TSA agent. cropped-rubbed-my-tummy.jpg

“Yes, I mean no,” I said.

“It’s the law,” the agent said glaring at me.

“It’s not the law for my health,” I said.

“Very well. That means a pat down,” he said.

“Fine,” I said.

The agent stretched out both arms barring me from moving away and held me there. He called out, “Female agent. Pat down here.”

The other passengers in line were getting free entertainment even before boarding.

I didn’t care.

A female agent appeared. She put  on a pair of latex gloves with a fanfare and gave a little snap at the end. It was clear I had interrupted her coffee time.

“This way,” she said and motioned for me to follow her.

“Do you want to do this in a private room or here?” she asked.

“Here,” I said and smiled. I wanted witnesses.

“Very well. First, I have to tell you what I’ll be doing,” she said.

“Skip that. Just do it,” I said. I smiled again.

“I can’t. It’s the law.” Then she slanted her head upwards to show me a camera that was recording everything.

Witnesses! I loved it. I smiled even more.

She asked me to stand with legs apart and arms outstretched.

I complied.

I smiled at my audience in front and above me.

The agent ran her hands all over me, from head to toe, in a professional manner.

“You’re free to go,” she said when she finished and removed her gloves with another snap.

After reading so many horror stories in the media about pat-downs, I was prepared for the worst. Instead I was shocked at how decent an experience it was.

Calvin says, “If that had been me, I would slobbered all over her face.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Me Out of Here

I’m a nervous flier. My worst nightmare is the scanner at the security check point. I refuse the x-ray. At the doctor’s, yes. The airport, no way anyone’s going to see through me.

My strategy is to make myself invisible and morph into a stream of blue particles like Star Trek. “Beam me up, Scottie,” would be my mantra. It’s clean, efficient and quick. Away from latex-gloved hands groping my inward parts.

My other strategy is to scan for sheep in the stalls and attach myself to a rowdy group of plus-sized ewes with thick fleece and jangly jewelry. TSA agents love them. While they’re being detained and interrogated, I slip through.

My other must-haves for checkpoints are:

1) slip-on shoes that slip-off easily

2) a boring handbag, black, preferably fake leather, that attracts zero attention from female agents

3) a jacket I remove in front of watchful eyes, which makes me look like a docile, obedient sheep

4) and a smile

It works. Not always.

A friend, on her last trip, was selected for the scanner. She complied and was still pulled aside for a pat-down. “My fat was hiding my skeleton,” she said.

Another friend, an 89-year old, was also selected for a pat-down on a recent trip. “I chose the bright side. It was an invigorating massage,” she said.

Hm…I think the TSA is profiling older women traveling alone. They’re the new look of terrorism. Laugh lines, salt & pepper hair, and plump figures. They’re concealing weapons in the folds of their extra-large girths. Or maybe in the buns on their heads.

I recently flew out of Bob Hope airport in Burbank, the one remaining vintage movie set airport in California. Surely here Antonio Banderas would invite me to walk through the electronic gate and I’d be escorted to my plane. Instead, to my horror and disbelief, I saw my dread. Somebody had installed the newest scanners in the industry when I wasn’t looking. They looked like the Star Trek version. I was going to get my wish.

My decision came down to: Was I going to submit or dash to Hertz and drive home?

My ticket was paid for.

I was standing sans shoes, jacket and purse.

I was next in line.

It wasn’t Antonio waiting for me. It was Brunhilda in armor.

Help!

What would you have done? (leave me a comment)

Calvin says, “I would have created a real Hollywood drama by howling my head-off.”