Monday, November 7, 2011

The Friendly Skies?

Denver International Airport is set up a little differently from Logan. The ticket counters and check-in is on the upper level with the restaurants, while the Security Checkpoint is on the lower level in a two-story open air space. From the food-sellers you can look right down and see the roped off pathways that herd potential passengers to four or five inspection points. Usually that area is full of people, all hurrying to through to their flights; taking off shoes and belts traying things up to pass through the x-ray machines, trying to get themselves together on the other side of the machines and get out of the way for the people who are coming through behind them. From above, you can eat your pizza or burger, or even Chinese food while looking down on a scene reminiscent of a tipped over ant farm.
When I went through there at 10:30pm local time last night on my way from Colorado back to Massachusetts, it was a little different. The rope lanes were empty, and the only people to be seen down there were uniformed security personnel at the two inspection points they still had running. There were five people manning each station, and they looked bored.
Well, I thought, I'm either going to breeze right through here or these folks are going to make a training exercise out of me just to have something to do!
I made my way through the rope-maze completely unhindered. There were two other people trying to get through as well, and I simply followed one of them to the inspection station to my right. She let me go through first, so I pulled out all my electronics and fluids and tossed them in two trays, threw my shoes and jacket on the belt and started through.
"Sir, do you have anything metal in your pockets?" asked the guard just as I was about to step through the metal-detector. I checked.
Change. I had a few coins in my pocket.
"Not a problem, sir, please just step through here."
He was directing me through the bio-scanner that stood next to the metal detector.
"Put your feet in the yellow footprints and place your hands above your head please!"
I did so.
The woman running the machine declared me clear, and I stepped through to the secure portion of DIA.
The woman's partner, an slightly vertically challenged man began to bark at me.
"Sir, what do you have in your hand?"
I answered at the same time the female officer did, that I had coins in my hand, thus the bio-scanner.
"What is in your back pocket, sir!"
Now, there was no one there. We were in a big, empty space, yet this little man was shouting. Constantly.
There was nothing in my back pocket.
"There's something in your back pocket sir!"
"No, there isn't."
"There's something in your back pocket, sir!"
"He's wearing cargo pants," the female officer said. "It's just the shape of the pocket."
"He has something in his pocket! His left rear pocket! Your left rear pocket! Your left rear pocket!"
By this time I had  unbuttoned my left rear pocket and had my fist jammed in it, with my back to this Pocket Drill Instructor so he could see what I was doing.
There was nothing in the pocket.
He began to shout that he was going to pat me down. Shout, not say, or tell me. Shout. In this big, open empty space. I agreed immediately, but he continued to inform me. Loudly.
"I'm going to pat you down, sir!"
"I'm going to pat you down, sir!"
"I'm going to pat you down, sir!"
"I'm going to pat you down, sir!"
He finally began to 'pat me down', which consisted of him rubbing his flat palm down my backside again and again. Like you would a cat.
He found nothing in my left rear pocket but my left rear. Apparently this did not make him happy. I didn't think my rear was that bad, but he seemed upset by it.
"Come here, please, sir!"
I went with the loud little butt-stroker, and we stepped up to another machine, one I had never seen before.
"I'm going to swab your hands sir!"
"Um... okay?"
He ran a piece of greenish paper over my right hand, and then shouted at me again.
"I'm going to swab your other hand, sir!"
The green paper again. Then he took the paper and stuck it in a slot in the machine like he was pushing a very thin bank card into a futuristic ATM.
 We waited.
I realized that this walking poster for Little Man Syndrome was checking me for explosive residue.
Are you serious?
It occurred to me that the only thing left was for me to wind up in that small room off to the side that I'm so afraid of, with Little Man snapping on a blue latex glove and shouting "I'm going to check your rectal cavity, sir! I'm going to check your rectal cavity, sir!"
I started to look for someplace to run to. He was little, and I was pretty sure I could take him, but that might not go over too well in a post 9-11 airport.
The light on the machine came up green.
"Thank you, sir, you can go!"
"Have a nice flight, sir!"
I actually felt my sphincter unclench.  I finally went and collected my stuff and got the hell out of there, walking alone down to the train to the gates. No crowds, no bustle, just me.
Breeze right through or become a training exercise for bored security personnel?

"Hello, my name is Rob and I'll be your training exercise for this evening. Just let me take my shoes off and I'll read you the specials..."

Good God!

Talk to you later!

No comments:

Post a Comment