Semenai de! Kesanai de! Makenai de!

After spending 16 hours out of 36 in airports/airplaces, I can tell you where you should really hide your bomb. And no, it's not your shoe. (PS the title means "Don't make fun of it! Don't destroy it! Don't cheapen it!")

Over the weekend I spent a lot of time in airports, due to a rather assinine family ’emergancy’ that I won’t get into. Suffice to say I blew $150 on two one way tickets: ORD to HOP to MDY. At least it wasn’t the original ORD to SFO to ORD to HOP to MDY. The actuall airlines are going to be saved some embarassment. I won’t name them directly.

I get to ORD with an e-ticket, a printed itinerary and my fancy new TWoP Metro Bag (a gift from some friends, thank you!). Ipstenit stayed home, since there was no point in her taking the train to the airport with me. I didn’t want to stand in line to check in, so I went right to the security check point for the airline that isn’t American and held up my printed itinerary. The security guard glances at it, nods and waves me in, never looking at or asking for my ID.

Now, I should point out that this printed itinerary was an email copied into a plain notepad-esque application and then printed up on scratch paper. As I put my bad on the scanner belt, I wondered if showing my itinerary in my Palm Pilot would have been enough. Still, point one against the airline.

I get in and with $5 in my pocket, head to the ATM. From experience, I know the ONE ATM in the Concourse that doesn’t charge fees, hit it up, and grab meal #1: Micky-D’s Crispy Chicken meal, with water instead of soda. The plan was to meet my brother at his plane and move on from there. His plane is an hour and a half late. I meet him, he gets food and drink, we go to our next plane which was originally delayed an hour (which would have given us 20min to make it from his flight), and instead was two hours late.

We don’t have seats by each other (him 16A, me 28F), so I put on the charm and chat up the very nice lady behind the counter.

“Hi, I’m traveling with my brother, and I’m not seated by him. Can you change our seats?”
“Are you seated by each other?”
“… No, ma’am, we’re not.”
“Did you fly in with him from … SFO?”
“Okay, I can’t do that.”
“Yes, actually, you can. This flight is only half-full, you said so to the woman in front of you. I’d like seat 16-B if it’s open.”
“Oh, 16-B is open. Hang on. *clickity-clack* Right, here you are.”
“Don’t you need to see my ID?”
“*sigh* Here’s my ID. No one gave me anything to carry onboard for them, I didn’t talk to strangers and I’ve had my bag the whole time.”
“… Riiiight. Take your ticket.”

So I take the ticket, grab a seat and chat with my brother. We both love Anime and Manga, so we spend a happy hour gabbing about which Gundam was the best, and why we like/dislike ‘Cowboy Bebop’ and ‘Lone Wolf and Cub.’ Eventually we’re ready to board. We’re in the third group to board, and even though we could use pre-boarding, we decided not to. What was the rush? When we get to the ticket check in, my brother breezes though and I get caught up by the dreaded gate security check.

Keep in mind, I knew this part was coming. I had a one-way ticket and I was flying, technically, alone. This actually fits the basic profile of the 9-11 terrorists. Mind you, I look nothing like them, but let’s go with that. They check out my shoes, my bag and make me turn on my cell phone. I’ve also got my iPod, Sony Digital Camera (both thanks to Mom!) and my Palm Pilot. None of those are even looked at. They check me for metal and then for drugs, and finally let me go on.

The flight itself is okay. We chat about religion and philosophy, murder and art. Then we bide the time of the circling waiting for landing to fill out a crossword puzzle. We land, late, Dad picks us up and we go to our grandmother’s, where her famous chicken is waiting. Dad and I inhale the chicken, my brother draws some birds. Then it’s back to arguing about philosophy, timetravel and RPGs (Dad got his degrees in philosophy and math, so it’s much more in depth now). Eventually we hit up a couple strange points of existance, and Dad proves that we don’t exist. So being non-existing, I get out the ice cream and watch Anime (Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, Saturday Nights) with my brother.

Around 2am, we go to bed, getting up at 8 to go for a hike. Except we don’t, since it was raining in the woods and I only have one pair of pants and two shirts (traveling light, again). So we lounge around, Dad calls up his Japanese girlfriend and we all chat with her. Then we go over to a ‘surprise’ friend’s new house, meet up with the ‘surprise’ people (whom I’d already pegged as being the surprise, so I wasn’t), woke up their family and went to Sands for brunch. Dad was pissy about the ‘no beer before 1pm’ law, and steadfastly waited till 1pm to order his damn beer! We all laughed.

One of our friends had been questioned regarding a murder, so we talked about that for a while. The seven of us chatted and finally left for the lake. I took a ton of pictures (which I’ll share later) and Dad took me to the airport.

And we’re back to insanity. This time, I have 2 hours before the flight leaves, so I check in at the ticket counter. I have a nice chat with the friendly fellow from that ‘open seating’ airline, and he hands me the flight book for MDY/HOP, since I do tend to make that trip a lot, and if it’s cheap, I’m for it. This time at the security check point, they scrutenize my ID and ticket before I’m allowed to get in the line to use the x-ray machine. They also exlpain that open bags or boxes of food aren’t allowed, frustrating the fellow who’d bought a box of Cinnabons and had to go back and get the box taped shut. That’s fine by me, as I hate flying and smelling something sweat and fatty right behind me, when all I have are the damn peanuts!

I breeze through the x-ray, get to my gate, turn on the iPod and zone for the 4 hours it takes for my plane to actually land, unload, refuel and let us on, I’m in line to get on in the first group. I hand my ticket and start to walk to the security check, surprising the ticket checker and security guard.

“I’m flying one-way.”
“You always snag the one-way people.”
“Do we?”
“Sure, ask your boss.”
“Huh, you’re right, but how’d you know that?”
“I’ve probably been flying longer than you.”
“15 years.”
“25, I win.”
“Well, damn. You’re onto us!”

They check me, and this time while their metal wand beeps at my bra straps, belt buckle, and the metal grommets on my jeans, my watch is fine. They look at my bag, poke around my girly items, ask me why I have dirty underware in a plastic bag in my shoulder bag (the answer is obvious: so it doesn’t get on my things, hi, dirty underware?) and finally let me go. Not once do they look at or try to turn on my PalmPilot, iPod, digital camera or cell phone. I get on the plane, flip on the iPod and lie back to watch the scenery to Rammstein and KMFDM. The flight attendants saw me turn the iPod on, and never once ask me to turn it off, even though the woman beside me is told to turn off her walkman.

I know all these added security measures are supposed to make the airlines safer. Except really all they can do is make us feel safer, and they fail miserably at doing that, since we can tell that the measures were put in to give the apperance of safety. The world isn’t safe and it’s not going to become magically safe any time soon. There are people who can kill and people who can’t, but the ones that can are going to continue to kill.

Depressing? Not really. It’s real and that’s what life’s all about. We should always be aware of the dangers in the world, so that when we are in their path, we can take the best course of action to not get killed. That’s pretty much all you can hope for.

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