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 Texas : Features : Humor : Column - "Stumbling Forward"
Flying the Unfriendly Skies

by John Gosselink
Author John Gosselink
Theodore Rooselink
After that idiot terrorist wannabe tried to blow up a plane with his shoes, the authorities have updated their terrorist profile when screening travelers. I know this from experience. Because of this incompetent terrorist, they now look for people who are goofy, hairy, have a distant stare, and body odor.

I fit this profile.

Awhile back, Traveling Buddy Mike and I flew up to Denver to see our buddy Tony, "The Runaway Groom," finally get married. This was one of those once in a life time, Haley's Comet, get a close parking place at the Wal-Mart, rare type of events, so there was no way I was going to miss it. But we had to fly to get there and that's where the trouble started. Security tagged me as a risk the moment I stepped into the airport. The skies may be friendly, but the airports are downright grouchy.

At the Houston airport flying out, comparatively it wasn't so bad. For some reason, I can't get within 100 feet of a security detector without it going off. They must be set on "goofy." After the ensuing alarm racket, they directed me to the "possible terrorist or guy it would be fun to screw with" corner and start touching in places I was not comfortable with. Emotionally, I'm not ready to talk about it, but if you give me a doll I'll point at where he touched me and then draw a crayon picture with a lot of black in it.

I'm all for airtight security, especially if I'm on the plane, but I'm not sure we're doing this as effectively as we could. The gentleman at this gate who got to know me intimately was a bit past his prime, had to weigh at least 350 pounds, AND he had a broken foot. He wasn't even mobile, let alone someone who catch your average speed terrorist. I think even I could get away from this guy. Well, if I had a head start and took his cane.

It wasn't just my lack of confidence in his terrorist-stopping prowess. With his lack of balance, heavy breathing, and constant leaning into me as he frisked and wanded me, I wasn't sure if I was going through airport security or had an especially fresh prom date. After seeing numerous after school specials that dealt with this subject, I knew what to say, "Sir, I'm not that kind of girl and I would appreciate it if you kept your wand to yourself. I'm saving myself for an international flight."

After he was through with me, he smoked a cigarette and I continued on my way. After a fun weekend in Denver, city motto "Yeah, we hate Texans and we like telling them we hate them," and finally getting Tony married off - we barricaded the church doors so he couldn't run away - it was time to fly home. That's when I found out what Denver security is all about, especially for Texans.

When checking in at the reservation desk, they told us they had a special line and special tags for us. "Oh boy, a special tag!!," I thought, "Maybe we'll even get those plastic pilot wings they give to little kids flying alone!" But, get this; a special tag is not a good thing. They don't even let you have your boarding pass.

No, our special line was secondary screening in which we got to have all our luggage x-rayed. The Denver airport has apparently adopted an aggressive diversity hiring practice because two three-toed sloths with glandular problems were in charge of x-raying, and it took 30 minutes to do 2 bags. After getting our unmentionables photographed and examined, they sent us to general security.

Of course every bell and whistle went off when I went through and got to go back to the "feel up the loser" circle. They took my shoes and went somewhere with them as I was getting frisked, either to look for explosives or try them on. They are nice shoes.

This time, my frisker was a woman, but not the kind of woman I liked to have frisk me back in my pre-married days, if you know what I mean. I'm fairly certain you know what I mean since that is an obvious and juvenile double entendre.

This woman was very thorough and had a "full body cavity search" look in her eyes. I almost missed the fat guy and his tender hands from Houston after she was done with me.

Mike and I had been separated, so as not to hatch any new nefarious plots I assume, and I had no idea where he was or if either one of us was going to make the flight. And I still didn't have my plastic pilot wings. I was pretty down.

Our terminal was the furthest one away, so I took the train and then started the long run down the terminals. I used the people mover, but since find it impossible to be on there without pretending to do the moonwalk, it really didn't speed me up. But, yow, did I look cool.

I hit our gate with about 5 minutes to spare, but no Mike. He finally made it as they were closing the door, so he hopped on. But, surprise, I got to be securized again. Again with the taking my shoes, emptying of pockets, heavy petting, and I really don't think she respected me in the morning.

I don't think the wife, my doctor, or even myself is as familiar with my body as the folks at the Denver airport are. I'm really expecting something for Valentine's Day from them. But rest assured, if I ever sit next to you on an airplane, you are completely safe.

You'll know it's me because I'll be sitting funny if I been through that much security again.

©John Gosselink
October 20, 2003
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