The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Captain Napalm vs. Airport Security

With a flurry of last minute panicing and packing and Lake Lumina (the car) nearly empty of gasoline, Spring, her kids and I drove to the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport.

Spring was freaking out due to the late start and having to navigate both the ticket counter (for her two boys were flying alone back to Colorado) and the security checkpoints. I was freaking out because the gas guage was hovering on the red line marked “E” the entire way with no time left to refill the car.

The car managed to make it there, and to a gas station.

Spring was able to navigate the ticket counter and with the help of the ticket agent was able to avert a crisis at the last minute (that would have prevented the kids from flying today). So, with tickets and special badges (so we adults could accompany the kids to the gate) in hand, we started the long arduous process of clearing the security checkpoint.

At one end of this corridor is a security guard who sits there, making sure everyone that passes has either a ticket, or a special badge. Then you walk down this byzantine maze of ropes that snakes its way to the other end of the corridor where the security checkpoint lies. There, another security guard will direct you to a particular x-ray station.

Spring, with bright green hair and two small boys, went through without a problem; they were through in minutes.

Me, white Anglo-Saxon Protestent who on a good day, looks like a Cuban refugee, had a slight issue walking through the scanner, with hand in pocket, which I learned is a real big no-no around airport security.

Whisked to one side I was scanned. Shoes … beep. Take them off to be x-rayed. Pants … beep. Remove keys to have them x-rayed, pants tried again … beep. Remove wallet to have that x-rayed, pants attempted yet again … beep. Pants removed to have that x-rayed. Shirt … clean. Head … beep. Glasses removed to have that x-rayed. Second attempt on head … clean. By this time the shoes come back clean (“Must have been the eyelets for the laces that trigger the sensor”), then the keys (“Just ordinary keys, thank you very much”). Followed by the wallet (“Spare house key I see, and on, by the way, the magnetic strip on your bank card is now wiped out, just for your protection”), then glasses (“Clean from a security standpoint, but could use a cleaning themselves, and they're somewhat beat up”) and finally the pants (“It's the zipper. Sorry about that”).

By the time I got through, the boys were already boarding the plane.

Spring and I had to stick around until the plane took off. While there, we watched as a few late stragglers where searched at the gate, even more intrusively than I was. It took something like six security guards to scan the three late passengers. One poor passenger had everything removed from her carry-on luggage, unwrapped, scanned and x-rayed.

Even with all that, the plane left the gate within 10 minutes of its scheduled departure time. Amazing.

After some twenty minutes or so hanging around, we assumed the plane took off without incident, since we didn't have a good view of the main runway.

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