2005/11/27

Are you ready for your TSA moment?

So I'm flying back to San Francisco after the holiday, and I'm in Chicago waiting for my connection. When the plane pulls up, I notice that it's nose is corroded. Not a little but severely. Like there's a ring of corrosion a foot in diameter right in front where everyone in the gate area can see it, and this isn't some 20 year old 737. This is one of Boeing's newest, a 777 that has replaced the original plane my wife and I are supposed to be on.

Now at this point I should explain that I've become quite a nervous flyer in my old age, and this is starting to make me sweat. I'm actually thinking of not getting on the plane--abandoning our seats. I even go up to the gate agent on the pretense of ensuring that our seats are still together.

When I get up to the agent, I'm thinking furiously, Can I ask to be switched to another flight? What excuse can I use? What will they think? They'll probably call TSA, who'll spend the next 6 hours making my life miserable. What will my wife think? Finally, I chicken out and ask about the seats, but it doesn't stop there. Waiting in the boarding line, my wife can tell that I'm nervous and asks what's the matter. I tell her to walk over to the window and look at the plane. She does, sees what I'm talking about, and asks me what I'm thinking. I tell her that I don't want to fly that plane, and she (she's really decisive) drags me over to the desk to get us on the next flight while I'm busy protesting that we'll get hauled in by TSA. I mean, two people getting off a plane for "no" reason looks mighty suspicious, right?

In the end the agent feeds us some bullshit about the next two flights being totally full (they weren't), takes our boarding passes anyway, shreds them, and we end up getting to San Francisco 2 hours later than we'd planned.

Thinking about this today, I find I'm really angry about the whole thing. Why the hell would an airline put a plane into service that had obvious, physical damage? Was the plane airworthy? Probably, but does the airline simply not give a damn about their passengers? After all, 20 people were all staring and pointing at this plane's nose. And what about TSA? My first thought there was, I freakin' hate the fact that my fear of TSA almost made me get on that flight. My second thought, just as irrational, was, Hey?! What are they getting paid for if not to catch sweaty passengers who try to get off planes at the last minute.

Is this all just overblown bullshit? I don't think so. Something subtle has happened in this country. Can any of us remember a time when the fear of some kind of "blot" on your public record makes you almost ignore your own best judgment about what is a dangerous situation and what is not?

2 Comments:

This is the Left's equivalent, or at least it's parallel, to the Republicans "elephant in the room," known as the deficit. All of America has turned a blind eye to the new precedent set by the Bush Administration in the Padilla case. Anyone of us can be dragged away at anytime, for any reason. It could be years before we are charged with whatever crime they conjure up.

Why no more than a blip when Padilla was charged last week? Because the fear tactic works. No one says much because no one wants to be the next one dragged away. 3 years, and all they have is some conspiracy charge? Does anyone else besides me remember the Right howling about similar circumstance with Delay?

The New Red Scare.
F* Due Process
Even if you're not a Jose Padilla the government, thanks to everyone's favorite - the Patriot Act, can issue a sneak-and-peek warrent that effectively bars you, not just from challenging the warrant in court, but from even knowing that you're being investigated, for up to 2 months!!!

F*ck due process indeed!

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