- Now, understand, that even when I am in a bad mood I
am still one of the most cheerful men you're ever likely to meet. That
goes triple if you work in a terribly unsatisfying job like checking boarding
passes and identification when you just know that bitch at the top of the
stairs is going to double-check your work every time. I have worked in
crap jobs and I always try to be pleasant. "Good morning," I
smiled at Alisha, handing her my California driver's license and printed-from-the-internet-but-ridiculously-easily-forged
(link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4, link 5, link 6, link 7) Southwest boarding
- She smiled at me, checked that the name on my license
matched the name on my boarding pass, and used a yellow hi-liter to mark
the boarding pass with what looked exactly like a one-inch line. (Do I
need to tell you that they sell yellow hi-liters in just about every single
store in America?) As she handed "my papers" back to me, she
paused. She looked me in the eyes. She smiled. And then she said, "I
can't see your eyes."
- I raised my hand to my face to remove my sunglasses and
stopped. She wasn't smiling because she was nice. She was smiling because
she was suffering from False Authority Syndrome! The poor child. In the
most disarming, rational, peaceful, and kind voice at my command, I said,
"You don't need to see my eyes."
- "You have to remove your sunglasses, sir."
- "No, actually, I don't."
- "I can't let you past here with your sunglasses
- "Yes, you can."
- At this point she became obviously frustrated and confused.
She looked at me as if I was a freshly-shaved Osama bin Laden in a sports
coat and khakis. She became stern. "Take them off, please."
- "There's no law that says I can't wear my sunglasses
in the airport. ma'am"
- "Yes, there is. It's a rule."
- "It's not a rule."
- "It is. I can't let you pass."
- "Yes, you can."
- She took my boarding pass and used her yellow hi-liter
to turn the line into an X. An X of shame and potential threat. She called
to the top-of-the-stairs officer, "Threat alert!"
- No, I'm not kidding. Then she let me go up the stairs.
At this point I expected to get into an argument with the top-of-the-stairs
woman. I didn't care. I had two hours to kill and I wasn't in the mood
to be pushed around by the TSA. But surprisingly LeVonda did nothing even
remotely antagonistic. In fact she let me get into the extra short special
security line! This was a bonus! Instead of standing in the "general"
line with the hundreds of non-sunglasses wearing rubes, I got to get into
the fast lane!
- The fast lane was occupied by a mother and her three
children, a very, very tall black man, and a guy that looked like the most
average, generic businessman possible. I didn't feel like any of them could
in any way be as much of a threat as I was, but I guess you can't judge
a book by its cover. We merrily zipped through the metal detector and had
our carry-on bags x-rayed.
- The carry-on bag x-ray is my favorite part of flying
and has been since long before 9/11. I haven't gotten on an airplane without
a pocket knife since I was a Boy Scout. If my plane goes down, dammit,
I will not be stranded on a desert island without any way of cracking into
a coconut! Ever since 9/11 I've carried at least two, and sometimes three,
back-up pocket knives. I've flown about thirty times since then, and only
one time was one of my knives confiscated. For this flight I had two, and
they both went undetected.
- But now a wrinkle! I wasn't allowed to get my bags. A
tremendously grumpy guy grabbed my bag, my laptop, my jacket, and my shoes
and gave me the double-ultra shakedown. He went through every pocket of
my briefcase. He went through my jacket. He looked in my shoes. (He did
not, I should note, ask me to remove my sunglasses.) He never smiled. He
was a serious TSA. There was a uniformed LAPD officer standing nearby as
well, but he looked like he just enjoyed standing there and flexing and
wasn't very interested in all of the potential threats to national security
that were being given the what-for by the TSA.
- The TSA double-security checker was not about to let
me get past him. He knew I was a bad guy. I had a water bottle. I wasn't
hiding it or anything, I just honestly forgot that liquids are dangerous
nowadays. He held it in front of my face like it was a Nazi membership
card that he'd found in my blazer. "You know you can't have this,
- I almost - almost - said something snarky about how it
was cool that he didn't care about my Swiss Army knife or my Leatherman
tool. Instead my reply was, "Oh, yeah, right. Sorry about that."
I reached for the water bottle, saying, "I'll just chug that now."
- You would have thought I pulled an UZI out of my ass
at this point. He literally jumped backwards and told me, "Don't come
- I laughed. I did. I couldn't help it. It was absurd.
I looked at the LAPD officer and said, "Is he serious?" The policeman
looked at me as if he was very sorry and trying to not laugh himself. He
walked a little bit closer towards us but said nothing.
- "Dude. It's water. I'll drink it right now."
- "I can't let you do that. You have to throw it away."
- "What? Why? I'm going to drink it. I'll drink the
whole thing. Right now. Right in front of you."
- "You can't do that."
- "Why not?"
- "It's against the law."
- "What law?"
- "You can't drink in the security area at the airport."
- Now this is where I got mad. "There is no law that
says I can't drink water in the security area of the airport!" I looked
at the cop, "Is there?" The cop said, "I have no jurisdiction
where you are. You're not on LA property."
- This seemed pretty silly to me. What the hell was he
doing there if he wasn't allowed to do anything? But whatever. He was a
cool cop and I didn't have any beef with him. I looked back at the TSA
guy and said, "Show me the law."
- He stared bolts of fire into my skull and said, "I
don't have to show it to you. It's the law."
- Yes, I really did say, "Uh."
- "There's no law, man," I said.
- He said - and I swear I am not making any of this up
- "It's an SSI and I am not required to show it to you."
- "What is an SSI? Are you kidding? This is America.
You can't enforce a law without showing it to me. I never voted on any
law about drinking water in the security area of the airport. There is
no such law." I really, really wanted to ask him if SSI stood for
Super Secret Information, but I forgot.
- "I can't let you drink this water."
- "Fine. Throw it away. I don't care. It's an unopened
bottle of water that I am willing to drink right in front of you. But whatever."
- "I can't throw it away. You have to throw it away."
- I picked up my bags and walked away.