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thedrifter
01-23-06, 08:37 AM
Lines, Tickets, and Bores, Oh My!
Written by Burt Prelutsky
Monday, January 23, 2006

If you haven’t flown anywhere in the past few years, you don’t know what you’ve been missing. So, having just been to hell and back, I’ll tell you.

It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t that long ago that all we had to complain about was airplane food, cramped seating, and the occasional air pocket. These days, even a short flight is enough to give us a taste of what lies ahead for sinners in the afterlife.

For openers, thanks to all the security measures, you now have to arrive at the airport an hour and a half before take-off. To be on the safe side, make that two hours. And God forbid you leave your driver’s license at home, and are unable to prove you are whom you claim to be. Forget about catching your flight. Just call a lawyer and your friendly neighborhood bail bondsman.

In the good old days, however long the line was, once you got your ticket, you were home free. Today, the worst is yet to come in the form of serpentine lines leading up to the security check point. Disneyland wishes it had lines this long for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

The fact is, until recently, once I finally reached the head of the line, I would get passed through pretty quickly. After all, I didn’t have any metal objects on me, my only carry-on would be a magazine or a book, and I always wear tennis shoes. But, apparently, someone high up in Homeland Security decided that short, old guys constituted a real threat because they have started making me take off my sneakers so they can X-ray them.

I know that racial profiling is verboten. I even know the reason. Namely, because logic is out of fashion in a world in which political correctness trumps common sense every day of the week. I, at least, might be taken for a Saudi or an Iranian in a certain light, especially if you squinted, but my wife has red hair and blue eyes, and she sets off their alarm every time we fly. I swear, all she has to do is show up, ticket in hand, and they whisk her aside and wave the wand over her person like a divining rod, as if hoping to find water. Once, they even confiscated a pair of tweezers that had been owned by her late mother. On the other hand, I swear if Osama bin Laden flew Southwestern, they’d pass him through just so long as he had a driver’s license.

I do have a question, though, about my fellow passengers. For the life of me, I don’t understand why so many of you insist on carrying aboard luggage which appears to contain all of your worldly possessions. I mean, in spite of all the jokes about airline luggage going off on its own vacation while you go off on yours, it remains a very rare occurrence. That being the case, why bother toting a heavy bag all through an airport and then having to risk a hernia stuffing it into an overhead compartment? All to save yourselves a five or ten minute wait at the baggage carousel?

Maybe it’s not fair, maybe it’s not nice, but every time I see some shmoe lugging his bags aboard a plane, banging them into everyone’s legs as he makes his way up the aisle, I picture him with donkey ears and a tail. Mentally, I start him off with an IQ of 100, and subtract ten points for every five pounds he’s toting.

Frankly, in order to punish these cretins who manage to create endless bottlenecks by forcing the scanners to examine the contents of their overstuffed bags, I would make them stand in their own separate serpentine line. Forget having to arrive a couple of hours before take-off; it would be more like a couple of days.

Now, perhaps, you understand why 9/11 remains so fresh and raw in my mind, and why, when I read news accounts of Islamic terrorists being tortured, my gut reaction is to hope that it somehow involves serpentine lines.

About the Writer: Burt Prelutsky is a humorist, movie reviewer, writer for television series and movies, and author of the new book, "Conservatives Are From Mars, Liberals Are From San Francisco." His website is at burtprelutsky.com. Burt receives e-mail at BurtPrelutsky@aol.com.

Ellie