Homeland Security in its purest form

Published 11:01 am Friday, December 12, 2008

A couple weeks ago, I took some time off from making everybody angry about John McCain (love you Mitch Stott!) in order to travel to Boston to see my good friend Russell Kooistra, who attends MIT and by necessity must live there.&bsp; However, this column is not about Boston.

This column is about the Raleigh-Durham airport, because that is, to me at least, a much more interesting subject than Boston.&bsp; I thought Boston was great; however, it didn&squo;t inspire such strong emotion in me that I felt compelled to write about it immediately after I experienced it.&bsp; Airport security, however, did.

I should preface this by saying that I absolutely loathe flying.&bsp; It is my personal conviction that every moment I spend airborne is a moment that would be better spent on the ground, and that airplanes as mechanical contraptions are implausible at best, leaving me to believe that they logically should not be able to fly.&bsp; Due to these views, whenever I fly I experience a sort of cognitive dissonance, as I am taking part in an experience that is, when I view it subjectively, completely impossible.&bsp; Basically what I&squo;m trying to say is that flying makes me nervous.

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So you can imagine how I felt when I went through airport security at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.&bsp; I often worry that airport security is ineffective, as they seem to spend an awful lot of time wasting their security expertise on people like me.

When I got to the head of the line, I took off my backpack and jacket, threw all of my personal items in the little trays that you push through the x-ray machine, and sauntered on through the little gateway confident that I&squo;d be good to go.&bsp; Moments after I stepped through without hearing a beep, I heard that dreaded phrase:&bsp; &dquo;Excuse me sir, but you&squo;ve been randomly selected for further screening.&dquo;

&dquo;What?&dquo; I said, the confusion shining in my eyes like the diamonds on a rapper&squo;s watch.&bsp; &dquo;What&squo;d I do?&bsp; It must have been my belt.&bsp; Can I take off my belt and try again?&dquo;

Seizing upon my completely obvious ruse intended to obfuscate a terrorist nature, she ordered me into a chamber that looks like a transporter from Star Trek, only it does a quick x-ray of your entire body and sends you into a glass room to await questioning instead of breaking your molecules apart and sending you across the galaxy, neither of which at the moment sounded terribly pleasant to me.

The room was see-through and contained little in the way of tools, save for one thing that looked uncomfortably like an anal probe.&bsp; I worried that this implement and I were well on the way to a rendezvous.&bsp; I sat in a chair that was more than definitely analyzing my weight and posture, as well as analyzing the impression of my rear in order to cross-index it with all of the notable terrorist samples in Homeland Security&squo;s Butt-Print Database (HSBPD), possibly even finding several matches.&bsp; Or maybe it was just a chair.

Another homeland security person came up and asked the woman who had stopped me what was the matter.&bsp; She told him, &dquo;Everything seems okay, but. . . he didn&squo;t take his shoes off.&dquo;

This man was clearly a high-ranking Homeland Security Official, and it looked like he was about two Nikes away from hauling me off to the White House where I could be questioned by Michael Chertoff himself.&bsp; He looked at me with a glare reserved for only the most vile of evil-doers, and asked in a voice that was at once tense and incredulous:&bsp; &dquo;What?&bsp; Why wouldn&squo;t he do that?&dquo;

He rushed to me in a semi-panic.&bsp; &dquo;Sir, I need to see your shoes I Need Your Shoes I NEED YOUR SHOES RIGHT NOW!&dquo;

I submitted my shoes to his scrutiny, and he sent them through the x-ray machine of magic.&bsp; He discovered&ellip;&ellip;.nothing.

I, on the other hand, discovered that I never want to fly again.