Well Clamicitos, we’re off on our great westward adventure. Our flight out was fairly uneventful with the exception of discovering the luggage box on KT’s Pathfinder is exact height of the lowest horizontal structural supports at Logan central parking. “Are we scraping?” She asked. Yes, we were scraping.
For this Clameditor the flight was particularly enjoyable. I myself flew on a fairly heavy schedule from about 2000 to 2013, at one point obtaining enough miles on American so if they ever broke into commercial space travel I would have been business class to Mars. This timing means with the increased security protocols following 9/11 I have been subjected to every bit of TSA security theater as it’s evolved.
First there was the “turn on your laptop” phase which was always sort of loony. What was that supposed to prove? Then the “s” on your boarding pass concept, which meant agents were supposed to single you out for additional scrutiny (we would just hold our ID over that part to fool them.). There was a thing for a while where some of the x-ray bins for your stuff had red electrical tape marking, also designed to “randomly” select folks they’d pull aside. When I saw one of those at the top of the stack I always found an opportunity to let the person behind jump ahead while I checked my pockets one last time. “Have fun in Guantanamo, sucker,” I’d think.
Once, flying out of Benton Harbor Michigan, they handed me a red plastic card and said, “you’ve been selected for additional security, please present this to the TSA officer as you enter the terminal,” which you have to admit is just…beautiful in a way. In the meeting where they dreamed that up apparently not one person thought of a way for terrorists to potentially spoof that system. Amazing.
Terrorist 1: “Achmed, they have given you the red card! For sure now the infidels will find the cantaloupe-sized lump of semtex hidden in your carry-on when you dutifully present it to the security agent at the gate! We are ruined! Whatever shall we do?”
Terrorist 2: “I am sorry, but I can think of no other way around this problem but to hand the agent the card as instructed. What other options could there be?”
I should note here that Benton Harbor Airport doubles as the regional bus terminal. I’m not thinking this was the TSA A-Team on this one. Seriously, after a year of this crap flying once a week at least I could have been hired as a consultant to Al Queda on how to avoid airport security simply because I’m not fond of being groped by random frumpy people in ill-fitting uniforms. I sure somewhere someone is into that, I don’t judge, it’s just not for me.
And let’s not forget the shoes.In the past you spent your time outside the gate trying to pick the security line most full of people with slip-ons rather than the one with that goth chick sporting 19 eye Dr. Martens and piercings with enough collective metal to build a working toaster. You did a lot traveler profiling, actually: “Oh, that dude? He looks like he hasn’t flown since his honeymoon to the Poconos in 1963. Don’t get behind him, he’s got a metal hip and a pocket full of lucky silver dollars. That Indian lady in the sari and flip-flops who’s already got her laptop and plastic bag full of shampoo out? Get behind her, she knows the score.
But you know what? Something changed over the past few years my flying has diminished. At Logan at least you can leave your shoes on now. And the laptop stays in the bag along with the toiletries. Wow. It’s a whole new world. They did a hand screen for explosive chemicals which always makes me nervous because in Gloucester you never know what you’ve touched on a given weekend: a creosote-covered piling, diesel fuel, taxidermy chemicals, whatever the hell is that keeps soft serve from melting at the beach. I always worry at the hand screening.
But it was fine and we wound up on the plane and ready to wait a full half an hour on the runway in record time.
So here we are now in Los Angeles. LA and Boston are truly antipodes. Opposite sides of the country, opposite climate and about as different a set of cultural priorities as you can imagine. In our Beloved Hub it’s generally OK to be a blotchy unkempt smartypants in a shitty Subaru, whereas in LA they put up the velvet rope at Starbucks if you’re trying to get a latte with last year’s haircut.
The Clam/Flying Car crew on this little voyage fully expect to be treated as malformed hunchbacks on this trip, even though we charitably rate as “average looking” back home and even in spite of the fact every one of us went to Marshalls and picked up a couple of things. We shall do our best.