Terrorists Are Here! And They're Crippled.
Watch out world! Airliners are being taken over by the most unsuspecting of terrorists in the world - cripples! At least, that's what Homeland Security thinks. At least, that's what I think they think, as they targeted me on my way home from Florida last week at the Tampa International Airport.
Picture it - a nicely dressed 30-something guy in line, supported by his cane, approaching airport security. Suz stood behind me, and my pilot-friend Chris, wearing a nice red shirt, had just successfully gone through security.
Now picture airport security realizing something's not right.
No, it wasn't hounds and tasers and personnel busting through crowds. It was very subtle. The first employee was baffled by my ticket, particularly the hand-written part which the nice green arrow is pointing to, above.
"Hold on," were his first words. Then turned and asked his coworker, "Have you ever seen this before?" His coworker shook her head. His hand moved to his walkie talkie.
Yeah, it was just a walkie talkie, made of plastic and bits of metal and simply used for communicating with other living persons. But dang it's scary when a person of authority moves his hand toward his waist. He's either going to pull out his gun, grab his pepper spray, or undo his pants - All of which are equally scary.
He called another security officer over and showed him my Air Canada stand-by ticket. He asked the same question, "Have you ever seen this before?" followed by, "Is this acceptable?" The entire airport seemed to go silent.
Tension mounted as the two stared at my ticket. I hoped. Suz waited. Chris wore a nice red shirt.
The answer came, and it was No. The security man opened a separate, previously roped-off area and told me and Suz to wait in there. A few minutes later another security dude told me I would be entering a chamber which would blast puffs of air all over me. I did as I was told, and when the light went green, I exited the other side.
My cane was confiscated and examined while I stood with their loaner cane. A few minutes later I was sent through the metal detector.
On the other side, it was far from over. I was asked to remove my shoes and my belt by two security officers. (I'm sure one could've done the job, but two is more intimidating, especially with one's pants around one's ankles.)
Once my personal apparel was given the thumbs up I was told to put it back on, and to sit and wait while they searched all my luggage. With blue rubber gloves on they searched through every bit of baggage. Clean clothes, dirty clothes, and I-could-probably-get-another-2-days-out-of-these-because-they-havn't-started-to-smell-yet-clothes.
After that, they searched my camera bag with some sort of swab. All I could do was think how lucky I was that they weren't using the rubber gloves or swabs on me.
Man, for them to have made all that effort I must've been one scary-looking dude. Next time I'll make sure I shave, and request that nobody writes anything weird in the bottom corner of my ticket.