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Why I will Never Fly Through the US Again

Story ID:8364
Written by:John Ward (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Travel
Writers Conference:My Favorite Holiday Story
Location:Denver USA
Year:2010
Person:Oh me
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It was a flight to Amsterdam in the winter of 2010. I checked in early and left my hold baggage with the airline. Soon I was heading for the security check point and found a line of people waiting for a preliminary interview before the electronic security gauntlet. The single line was intelligently created so that as soon as an agent came free, the next person in line would go to that agent and be served in order of arriving.

Unfortunately an extremely well fed woman, who was fluent in Ebonics and packed into a uniform like a sausage into casing, decided that she had an even better system. She started taking people from the source line and telling them to go and stand behind people who were being interviewed, effectively negating the first-come-first-served effect of the one line system.

As I got to the end of the source line she motioned for me to stand in the line for interview booth number five. I said “If you don’t mind, I would rather wait for the first booth that comes open.” She looked at me as if I was a simpleton, shook her massive head in pity at my obvious inability to grasp her genius and told the person behind me to “go to five” and then the next person was sent to another booth line and so on. Realizing that no booth would come open if she continued, I allowed myself to be sent to a booth line with two people already in it.

As luck would have it, people who were sent to booth lines after me got to their interview before me, because I was now in a line with a white-haired, octogenarian lady who was obviously a mad terrorist bomber and who was now suffering through a very comprehensive and aggressive interrogation at the hands of an irritated security man with one frozen glass eye and one very animated sighted eye. He was extremely agitated that her responses were at human speed, whereas his questions were fired at her as if he had already determined she was a major threat to the country and his career was about to leap into the stratosphere with this astounding revelation.

After reducing the lady to tears and placating whatever personal animosity he had towards his own grandmother, he motioned the next person over. I stayed back, not because there was a yellow line or anything of that nature, but because I wanted to avoid the shower of saliva his enthusiastic interrogation produced.

When my turn finally came he asked me first: “Do you hate the USofA?” “A trick question” I thought. “Not at all!” I said. I wanted to add, ‘just the goose-stepping neo-Nazi martinets in immigration that purport to protect the country…,’ but - I held my tongue.

“What do you think of Jane Fonda?” A red flag went up in my mind… I knew this was in reference to her opposition to the Viet Nam “Police Action” but I just said: “Well, I think she’s a fairly good actress.” He glared at me. I wanted to say, ‘do you realize that it is now common knowledge that the claimed “attack” on the destroyer Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin was a lie, that in fact Captain Herrick of the USS Maddox fired first at what he later claimed were “radar ghosts” to provide an excuse to enter the conflict? Do you know that this action and misinformation resulted in an unwinnable war that caused 58,000 American deaths and unfathomable numbers of veterans with horrific psychological problems to say nothing of the Vietnamese? Do you realize that after the “carpet bombing” by B-52s of Cambodia, a country not in the war, a small, insignificant, rag-tag band of political nut-jobs called the Khmer Rouge got enough support from that bombing to swell into a major political force which, in turn, resulted in the grotesque, wholesale genocide of one and a half million innocent Cambodians, who were killed for as little as wearing glasses and appearing intelligent?’ But - I held my tongue.

“Are you Australian? You talk funny?” he continued. “No” I said “It’s just a speech impediment” hoping that the ADA might provide some protection. “Do you believe Iraq attacked the US on 9/11?” Red Flag! “Well that’s what I heard…” seeing his good eye start to jitterbug I continued “and yes I think those Iraqis were behind the suicide bombers Alcaida sent to destroy the US. In fact I believe, although he’s a Saudi who hides in Afghanistan, Bin Laden keeps a summer condominium in Baghdad from which he issues all his anti-American orders.” His jaw relaxed slightly… “How do I know you ain’t a terrist?” he continued. I wanted to say ‘a terrist sounds like someone from planet earth and in that sense I am terrist,’ but instead I answered: “I guess you can tell by the fact that I haven’t yelled Allah au Akbar yet. Isn't that an hourly requirement for terrorists?” I could see this question actually got him thinking. Without dismissing me he shouted “Next.” The fact that asking the question allowed me to utter the phrase didn't seem to occur to him. I was relieved, but the best was yet to come.

My mouth felt dry after the “preliminary interview” so I popped two pieces of chewing gum onto my tongue to generate a little saliva as I prepared for my journey through the TSA gauntlet. As the line progressed I placed my carry-on onto the conveyor belt and passed through the metal detector. Despite the fact that nothing beeped I was approached by an agent with a wand. He told me to stand to the side in the “Christ on a Cross” position and ran the wand all over my body. The fact that I still didn't beep seemed to raise further suspicion and I was told to “stand over there” where another agent instructed me to remove my shoes. As I did so I said “I suppose this is because of Richard Reid’s brilliant idea?” This solicited a blank stare. I continued: “I suppose because of Omar the Nigerian you’ll want my underpants too?” With that I reached in and extricated a spare pair of underwear I had hidden in my trousers as if it was the pair I was wearing.

I assumed there would be gales of laughter as I whipped out the underpants, but the silence was deafening! Oh God, I had forgotten the cardinal rule about airport officials and their sense of humor – they've all had it surgically removed. The agent quickly placed his hand around my throat and called for back-up. The man he was calling looked like a trousered ape, in fact, he was examining a knuckle he had scraped on a floor tile and seemed not to hear the call. To ingratiate myself with the man who had my jugular in his fist I attempted a whistle to help draw the ape’s attention.

Unfortunately my still soft and sticky chewing gum flew from my lips and onto the shirt of my captor. I tried to explain my intentions but it became increasingly difficult as he began to braid my esophagus into a reef knot.

All at once two other TSA agents grabbed me and dragged me into a room by my kidneys. One stuck his tazer between my buttocks and fired. To this point I had no idea that I was fluent in Klingon. My screams in Klingon were a source of endless amusement to the agents who evidently were Star Trek Fans. At this point I felt all was lost and I determined, when able to use my limbs again, to force my hands into the position of an abject supplicant, begging for his life. All I could think of was the Polish immigrant killed in a Canadian airport by tazing enthusiasts.

Although I was fairly dazed and confused by my complimentary electrical cell restructuring, I was able to note a degree of unbridled glee etched into the TSA agents’ faces while they searched my rectum with a convenient office hat-rack. I was tempted to say: ‘Normally I insist on dinner before that orifice is broached…’ but - I held my tongue.

After determining that I was, in fact, not a threat to the United States, the airport, the airline, the air industry, the TSA, the runway, the baggage handlers, the drug sniffing dogs and the janitorial staff, I was allowed to pass into an x-ray machine where I was irradiated for a very long time, because the tazing caused me to dance an involuntary mambo blurring the X-Rays.

Seeing me trying to look normal while twitching, drooling and convulsing in the passenger lounge would have made any self-respecting terrorist balk at boarding my airplane.

By the time I reached Amsterdam the convulsions had abated and were now limited to involuntary winking and an arm tick that made me give the fascist salute every twelve minutes. On the positive side I was able to use my laptop without recharging it for 27 hours and I did meet some interesting Dutch Nazi Party members.