Flying during the holidays: A story of survival

With all the fuss about the new airport security measures, you’d think the federal government was trying to install a requirement for anal probing before boarding. Perhaps the people who so vehemently protest the body scans and pat-downs are afraid that the sticks lodged up there will shake loose.

As an avid science-fiction fan, I was very excited to get the “Star Trek” experience. But my experience during the holidays burst my Trekkie bubble. And I’m hoping to enlighten the neurotic Monk-wannabes out there about the real deal.

First of all, it wasn’t “get a body scan or a pat-down.” Most passengers were filing through the regular x-ray machines. On my outbound flight from the Fort Lauderdale airport, there was no “Federal Fetish Machine.” I looked around for the agent who would give me the pat-down, but, alas, no one volunteered. Apparently, that measure costs extra. However, my return flight from Buffalo had the machine and I was granted the invasive scanning experience.

I asked the TSA agents if I could see my body scan. They agreed. I was shocked, stunned and horrified. I looked like a tall, skinny boy wearing a push-up bra. My head could have substituted for Yorick’s skull in Hamlet for all the facial features I could see.

I’ve seen coloring books with better quality pictures. My mammogram looked more graphic. Hmm, I wonder if my doctor took those x-rays home for his own nefarious interests. Sound ridiculous? Welcome to the world of logic. Come on in. It’s getting lonely in here.

To ensure journalistic integrity, I made sure to endure both invasive security measures. The pat-down couldn’t have been more boring. Honestly, I’ve had a more touch-feely session with my doctor for my yearly check-up. How do these people do “mole patrol” for skin cancer? GYN anybody? Prostate inspection?

Having flown during Thanksgiving and New Year’s, I can tell you that the hype has been ridiculous. Not since the Red Scare of the 1950s, when people thought there were Communist spies everywhere, has a conspiracy theory taken on such a life of its own and made the general public look just as ignorant and ridiculous.

I’m not claiming that exceptions haven’t happened. But a few bad apples doesn’t mean the entire agency is rotten.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen first-hand what happens when security measures fail. Maybe it’s because I’m a sci-fi fan. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because I have more important things to do than wonder if some over-worked, under-paid TSA agent is getting his jollies via padded pat-downs or cartoon-like photos of my blurry outline.

I understand that individuals have body image issues. A lot of us do. “I’d be perfect if I could just change this,” etc. But my parents shouldn’t have to bury me for that. People want to keep their privacy from the big, bad government. That’s fine. But those innocent 150 mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters on that one plane shouldn’t have to burn alive in a plane crash for your privacy.

No terrorist attack against an airline took place this year. Thank God, thank science or thank the TSA. Did the extra security measures help? We’ll never know. And when it comes down to it, isn’t the lack of fear and grief all that truly matters?

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