04 August 2009


There is much to say about my vacation to sunny southern California. The most important is the sad state of the American education system particularly when it comes to Airport security.

I shall explain.

I had to go through airport security exactly twice on my trip, once on each end. I am a seasoned traveler, an international connoisseur of airport security if you will. By far, the best airport security in the world is at London Heathrow Airport. They are quick, the are efficient and they know what the fuck they are doing.

None of the airports on my vacation knew how to accomplish any of those things.

Part One: It's not a Liquid

For backstory, my cheapest airport to fly out of from home is this podunk operation where livestock can delay a landing and the personnel feel as though the safety of the nation rests on their shoulders. It is small, small, small. On my flight outbound, I was carrying all my luggage as it’s only a week’s worth of vacation and the silly buggers at the airline want to charge me to check baggage. In my luggage was a cake and a container of icing as it was my mother’s birthday and celebrations would be in order.

I did not expect the Great Icing Fiasco of 2009.

“Ma’am, all liquids must be in containers of a maximum of three ounces.”

I look to my baggie of liquids (and seriously, we all know how ridiculous that whole thing is) and they are in 3oz containers. He points at my frosting.

“Ma’am, you’re going to have to either put that in a smaller container or throw it away.”

You have got to be shitting me. At this point, hand to Cthulhu, I was looking for hidden cameras – like maybe I was on best dumb airport security moments.

“That’s not a liquid.”

“I’m sorry ma’am but you’re going to have to either repackage it somehow or leave it behind.”

“That’s not a liquid. It’s frosting.”

“Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you not to take that tone. You cannot pass through security with this.”

“But it’s not a liquid! I mean, really, it’s not.”

At this point we have attracted the attentions of the one other person in the security area. “What’s going on here?” says Doofus2.

I point, “That is not a liquid.”

Doofus1 and Doofus2 confer over my can of frosting. Seriously. People in line (all three of them), begin to join in. There is no sending people around me. I have the full attention of the only two guys on duty.

“Dude, let her through.”

“It’s a can of frosting, she’s not going to hijack anything with it.”

Let us through!”

“Ma’am, the rules are quite specific. We cannot let you onboard the aircraft with this liquid.”

“It’s not a liquid!”

This argument could have gone one forever. It was only a buck fifty can of frosting, but it wasn’t a liquid and I sure as hell was taking it to California now. However, two events happened simultaneously. One, the two Doofuses superior showed up and two, he arrived.

You ever see those Dos Equis commercials with the most interesting man in the world? This was that guy.

“Excuse me, might I be of some assistance?”

Had anyone else stepped forward, I think the Doofuses would have had them arrested. They were about ready to have me arrested and put on the no-fly list, I swear.

Quite calmly, TMIMITW gestured to my frosting. “Icing such as that exists as an amorphous solid, a sub-state of solid matter.* It is not, in fact a liquid.”

The Doofuses and their supervisor looked at him. They looked at each other. Finally, the supervisor made an executive decision. “As long as it hasn’t been opened, let it through.”

I do not know why TMIMITW was in Louisiana. I don’t know why he was on my flight. I just know that he is awesome.

*Also, yeah, he was totally making that up. I Wikied that shit. But you know what? That makes him even more awesome in my book.

Part Two: If it looks like a computer and quacks like a computer....

After my outbound flight, I felt sure nothing could top it. I mean, this is Los Angeles, not Louisiana, surely they will be the efficient, capable security staff I always hope for.

Alas... they were not.

All things went as planned for the most part. My computer goes through without a hitch, as do my bags. However, in my bag, is Johnny 505. Oh the chaos you have caused.

It seemed to go well to start. I wasn’t stopped for any suspicious (and delicious!) containers. I was putting my laptop away and found myself the object of airport security scrutiny.

“Is that a Kindle?”

I bristled on behalf on Johnny and corrected him. “Actually, it’s a Sony ereader. Same concept,” at this point maternal pride took over. I flipped the cover open and turned it on, “See how well the text shows up?”

The security guy made appropriate ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’. Of course, this was way too good to be true. We caught the non-cool guy’s attention.

“Ma’am, all computers need to go through the x-ray machine separately.”

“That’s not a computer, it’s and ereader.” Deja vu anyone? I’ve totally done this before.

Luckily, before we could restart my Vaudevillian act again, my ereader admirer came to my defence. “We don't send iPods through. Same thing.” He handed me back my ereader, “Have a nice day ma’am.”

Aw, I was kind of hoping the most interesting man in the world would show up again.

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