2002-10-21 - 9:23 p.m.
I managed to get myself strip searched this afternoon. It was bizarre. And unreal. It wasnít a body cavity search or anything. I just had to stand in a room in my socks and underwear. And my undershirt, so itís not like I was totally naked. Merely exposed. But it was embarrassing nonetheless. And all for a pair of button fly pants. I am used to the quirks of SLC International. I actually have to prove that my laptop and cell phone are indeed the devices they claim to be, by turning them on. Normally this is all I have to do, but I was randomly selected for additional security procedures. So, despite the fact that the alarm had not tripped when I walked through it, I had to stand, as if I was being crucified, for the wand. Taking off my belt, shoes, and jacket, and stand on the little marked pad while a stranger patted me down, and then waved his wand about me. My watch beeped. And I had to take it off. Then my fly beeped. Apparently this is enough. I folded down the waistband and exposed the button fly, (and the flab of my stomach) but this was not enough. I still had to go into a room, take off my shirt and pants and give them to the intimidating guard in one of those plastic bins. Who left the room with them. So, Iím all alone in a small white room in SLC International thinking the worst. A minute later my clothes are back and Iím allowed to dress. It was surreal. I think I was a victim of racial profiling. I was in shock, at least a little bit, I think. I wandered off in search of a Starbucks. Just because it also fits the profile, and Iíd like to be predictable for security.
So, I was a bit shaken up by this. I kind of retreated inside myself. More so than normal. It was nice, because the experience marked me. And so I was a solitary figure, as opposed to someone that people just feel like they can talk to. The plane was very crowded, and I canít imagine how they got everyone on. I was at the end of the first boarding group, and there seemed to be too few seats as I boarded. Thatís one of the things that I donít like about discount airlines. With the big boys there are countless tricks that can be used, plus reward programs and upgrades and the like. As a premier flyer I can board first, and not worry, knowing that I have a seat, and that my carry on will be taken care of. I like the professional look of the other airlines flight attendants, the quiet way they go about their duties and the professional way they handle passengers and complaints. I donít like the familiarity one gets with the discount airline. The chipper attitudes and khaki shorts remind me of camp counselors who canít wait until we are in our bunks so they can sneak out behind the boat house and light up, each trying to outdo the other with tales of traveler inanity. I canít stand the way they act like we are all on the inside of one giant joke, because we chose to fly with them. I also donít like the faux, We are just one big family so letís enjoy the flight attitude. We are not one big family. We are bunch of tired cranky people who are stuffed into a space that would not meet the fire code if it was permanently attached to the ground about to be served 4 ounces of a beverage and a pack of nuts like snack time in kindergarten. I could deal though. I am reading an incredible book by Jincy Willet, titled Jenny and the Jaws of Life. A collection of short stories that awe me with their brilliance. And so, safe within the confines of superb literature I weathered the flight home. Oakland airport was a mess, with a literal sea of black and silver from the dayís Raider game, fans taking advantage of cheap flights back to LA and other destinations. These flights, I imagine, would be close to the comradery that the airline advertises and attempts to portray. I made my transfer to BART and then to VTA without hassle, and was home in less time than I had imagined. I called my parents from the porch, letting them know that I had survived the whole ordeal. I imagine them sharing the details of my humiliation at the hands of a rather large Tongan gentleman to friends and neighbors, until it becomes a family legend. I can live with this I suppose. Objectively I can see the intrinsic humor in the tale, the absurdity of the whole situation. The physical comedy of it all. But every time that itís brought up, I think that part of me will always feel exposed and vulnerable, the embarrassment of being defenseless and exposed while someone invades your personal space, almost, but not quite touching. Some stranger viewing me like only someone that I am intimately acquainted with should. It leaves a mark. Iíll be flying again at Christmas, and it will be interesting to see how I do with the security checkpoints then. Even now, typing this my heart is racing and Iím getting jittery. I like to think of myself as a solid citizen. Itís a slap in the face to be mistrusted so. Maybe it was penance for mocking the man with the wine opener, for disdaining his attitude and inflexibility that is the inevitable progress of age. Itís possible the incident was for my condescending attitude towards the airline that I was traveling, the constant Iím so better than this that ran through my mind on the trip out, my smug thoughts about the passengers by me. Perhaps it was even my cocky judgment of the Utahns surrounding me as I exited the plane in Salt Lake, that initial surge of annoyance and angst paid back in spades. And itís quite possible that it was merely luck, like a sniper team near our nations capitol or the lottery winner Wednesday night. One of those things that happen, and this time it was my turn.
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Zen and hiccups - 2007-06-18Guestbook Notes