TSA & Going Home

Yesterday was a travel day so there really isn’t much to say. Even so, I bet I can fill a page or two with absolutely nothing worth the time it will take for you to read it. Still, many of you will read on, thinking things will turn around, and it might get interesting, kinda like one of those movies that keep your interest just enough to keep you watching. Then, when the unexpected ending happens you think, “really? I actually sat here and watched that entire thing? Why did I do that?”

There is no answer, of course, because those are all rhetorical questions for which there are no answers.

Let’s talk about TSA for a little bit. I’m just a bit miffed at them for the farewell they gave me at the Kona airport.

When Diane made the travel arrangements, she submitted all the information needed for TSA pre-authorization at security. Leaving Portland it worked like a dream because we didn’t have to disrobe and we didn’t have to unpack anything except my CPAP so they could satisfy themselves it wouldn’t explode. I alerted them about my cardiac event monitor which they let me keep as I went through their scanner. Then we were on our way. Simple.

Leaving Hawaii, however, they apparently have different rules for such things. We both got in the TSA pre auth line and were sent along as expected until I explained I had a CPAP and a cardiac monitor. At that point they sent Diane on through then the agent keyed his radio and said, “Male assist line one.” Two agents, representing both genders appeared and took me aside for the full meal deal with TSA scrutiny – remove the belt, shoes, everything from pockets, and deliver a short narrative of why I part my hair on the left. They took my suitcase, removed all the liquids, in addition to the CPAP, and gave me a full pat down. All because I alerted them to the items I knew they would want to check.

I was a good boy and didn’t question their motives, but I’m sure I had them a bit worried when I began sweating profusely, like I normally do when I strip searched, because they figured having a cardiac monitor meant the likelihood of a heart attack was imminent. I actually considered clasping my hands to my chest to see what would happen but didn’t. When the pat down was in progress, and the patter guy was feeling the monitor wires through my shirt, he asked if that’s what they were and I just about said, “No, I’m actually wired to a bomb.” A moment of clarity prevented me from doing that, however, and the search continued.

When they were done, I was absolutely drenched with sweat and there was nowhere to go to do anything about it. It was going to dry, I knew, but I figured I was going to be pretty odoriferous during the flight. I made my way out to Diane and dropped my things then went to the restroom to at least splash some water in my face. When I returned, Diane said the TSA agent came out and gave her my favorite baseball hat which I had left at the search station. I guess that was nice of the agent, but it didn’t make up for the assault and the search.

Regarding the search … it wasn’t too bad, really, but I was disappointed that he missed a lot of spots that I thought would have been enjoyable had he touched them. He had a female agent with him, however, apparently in training, so he may have been a bit reserved for that reason.

The female agent offered to re-pack everything, but I declined and did it myself. Slowly, so they had to watch.

The bit question regarding all of this is what purpose does the TSA pre-authorization serve, really, if all TSA agents aren’t required to abide by the same rules. I can only presume that all TSA manuals, and modifications to the manuals, are like the Bible in that what the agents read is open to their personal interpretation. Therefore, they are never wrong, right?

Our flight was supposed to board through gate 7. Departure time was 1245 so I kept an eye on it like a hawk when the clock edged toward 1215. We could see the gate, but there was no movement through it, but there was a bunch of it through gate 9 so around 1230 I went to check on it and discovered that gate 9 was the one being used instead of gate 7.

If any of you have flown into, or out of, Kona, you know that this isn’t really a big deal because gates 7 thru 9 exit an area with only enough chairs to hold maybe 50 people, and there really isn’t a lot of traffic. But, being literal like I am, I figured when they said gate 7, that’s actually what they meant.

Discovering that gate 9 was the proper one, we went that direction and wound up being almost the last two on the plane. There were a few behind us, but they had to be hunted down and dragged to the plane so we could take off. No one ever reported where they found them but I suppose that’s really none of our business. Still, it would have been nice to know.

Finally, in our seats, with cool air blowing the aroma of my drying sweat all over the people in my immediate vicinity, the plane was pushed away from the terminal and the flight attendants aligned themselves to give their normal spiel about safety and all that. We had 4 attendants – 3 mail, 1 female. Lucky me was sitting in the aisle seat right where Brad positioned himself to go through the life jacket and oxygen mask demonstration. I felt like reaching out to poke him to see if his abs were as solid as they looked. Knowing Diane would disapprove made me think twice, however, so I kept my poker to myself. He was pretty cute. Using Brad as my example, the other two guys, whose names I never learned, were kind of the low-end of the Bell Curve at the younger and older ends. The younger one, was obviously a surfer dude, I thought, because of his shaggy bleached hair. Upon entering the plane I asked if he brought his surf board. He just grinned and nodded and I went on my way. The older guy was partially bald making me think I could probably be a flight attendant if I put my mind to it. The female attendant appeared to be a 5’2″ compressed version of a very shapely 6′ girl who weighs 165 lbs. The bulk was still there, but just not as attractive as the 6′ version. Kind of like a Rolls Royce that’s been compressed into one of the metal blocks destined for the smelter. OK. Sorry. That’s a bit of an exaggeration because she really wasn’t really unattractive, just apparently enjoying her position at the senior end of her chosen profession.

The flight landed an hour ahead of its scheduled time because we had a really good tale wind. We knew this was going to happen before leaving and I was able to text Jennifer, who was picking us up, so she wouldn’t arrive too late. It was a good trip, and we were both happy it was over.

Once tied up to the walkway, we once again witnessed one of the events that always amaze us as everyone prepares to exit the plane. Virtually everyone brings something aboard that needs to be placed in the overhead bins. If you don’t fly a lot, you may forget about how courteous everyone is during this evolution. It’s very orderly, like after a funeral where each row is allowed to leave before the next one can que up behind them. It’s pretty amazing to watch. No one gets upset, and it works just great. It’s expected. It’s too bad that these same people would push you off the freeway in a heartbeat if you dared to get in their way.

Just sayin.

I was good to see Jennifer and Lydia waiting for us. We went right to the car and headed home. Lydia and I sat in the back and talked about interesting things all the way home. At their house we went in to greet the rest of the family, then took ourselves home. It was raining the entire drive, but we didn’t mind.

The dogs were overjoyed to see us and we had to give them a lot of extra attention. They deserved it. So did the cat.

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