Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Oh, it's good to be home.

I sure do hate flying on airplanes. I don't mean the normal amount of I-Need-Material-For-A-Blog-Post-So-I'll-Pretend-To-Hate-Kittens kind of hate, but the real deep-seated Maybe-I'll-Blow-Up-This-Plane kind of hate. Grrrrr!

As I previously mentioned, we flew out of town last Thursday, which, apparently was the first day of the Orange Alert because some bozo tried to bring liquid bomb ingredients onboard an airplane. The Department of Homeland Security, the only organization that was previously unaware of the explosive power of Mentos and Diet Coke, chose that day to stop all passengers from bringing any liquids or gels onboard an airplane unless the substances were in an appropriately labeled prescription bottle.

So, last Thursday, the nation's travelers all spent a few extra minutes removing all liquidy substances from their carry-on bags. When I stopped at the baggage check-in line to move my daughter's toothpaste from her carry-on into our to-be-checked baggage, a New York Times photographer swooped down and asked if he could photograph me moving the contraband from one bag to another.

I did my best to be photogenic whie moving toiletries around. Short of squirting toothpaste in Hank's face in a mock money-shot, it was the best dramatic interpretation of the new security restrictions I could muster. Afterwards he interviewed me for a bit of biographical data, so I eagerly searched the NYT website the next day for my article. Sadly, no mention of my name, nor images of my annoyed mug were featured in the paper. Damn you Alex Quinterla!

When we finally boarded the plane, Hank and I were delighted to find that nearly all of the overhead bulkhead bins were empty. Apparently everyone else normally packs their carry-ons full with gallons of shampoo, toothpaste, and liquidy deoderants. Our book, game, and snack-filled carry-on bags had much more dedicated space than their human counterparts.

Anyway, these new restrictions will work great at stopping all copycat terrorists who never got a prescription filled in their lives. Nice work, Department of Homeland Security!

The whole experience just reminded me of how similar airline travel is to a Rube Goldberg device. In order to get from one place to another, you stand in one line, move toiletries from one bag to another, stand in another line, wait incessantly, contort your body into unnatural position for an eternity. Meanwhile your luggage gets conveyed, thrown, squished, searched, and trampled. Then, miraculously and idiotically, you're there! Voila!

At one point, after dashing from one airplane to another in Chicago's O'Hare airport, and making our plane with 3 minutes to spare, I asked the flight attendant if there was any chance our luggage would also get onto the plane. He grimaced and asked unironically, "Do you believe in the power of prayer?"

I knew then that airline travel was not for me.


Janelle Renee said...

Damn you Alex Quinterla! I'm going to write a strongly worded letter to his boss.

Hank's back survived the trip, then?

Mike said...

Hey JR, yes, Hank's back did pretty well. The 24 hour delay, plus the prescriptions helped out a lot. In the end, she didn't even need the damn Vicodin.