Monday, March 07, 2005

America becomes TOO SECURE

How many times, you ask, do you have to pass through security hassles when returning to the U.S.?

Why, funny you should ask that. It's a simple answer which I'll gladly explain in a not so simple manner.

First, you have to check in with the airline, the line for that is short but moves painstakingly slow as you have to show your photo I.D., driver's license, hair sample, urine sample, submit to an oral swab and the dreaded body cavity search. Of course only two items from that list are true, you can determine which for yourself.

After spending twenty boring minutes in that line as you try to hold and move your bags and eat lunch, you get to move onto customs where you turn in a card which you filled out only moments later, again doing two of the six dreaded tasks from the list above. Thankfully, this procedure moves sorta fast.

The next checkpoint is the standard 'strip-yourself-of-all-metal-and-throw-all-of-your-worldly-belongings-into-a-plastic-container-to-be-x-rayed' step. Of course there will be only two lines for 600 or so passengers. Enjoy the shoeless wait as government agents profile you and decide who gets pulled aside to miss their flight because their smile had a bit of a 'grin' in it.

Just beyond this little slice of hell is where you pick up your baggage you checked at the first step. Wha..? Wait a minute. Why did I check it? I have to pick it up now and take it around the corner to re-check it. You have to be kidding me.

The next ingredient in the fun cake is to walk through immigration. At this point, you are officially entering U.S soil which looks alot like a room carpeted with gray commercial-grade carpet littered with pissed off Americans who will now never likely leave the hallowed ground we call America again. I joke with the immigration guy about having such a nice computer as hel examines my stool sample, carefully tasting each nugget it contains and sends me on my way to re-check my baggage and wait in yet another line which seems to wind on forever with no signs of moving.

I finally, after approximately two lunar cycles, reach the front of the line after passing by yet more agents who have the authority to profile you and hold your luggage to keep it from reaching its final destination because they didn't agree with your choice of cologne. I cautiously hold my once-checked bag and make sure that the disgruntled man working as four more sat by lobbed my precious cargo onto a belt moving at the pace of a snail pushing a walker with two rusty wheels.

Next stop, another metal detector/x-ray checkpoint. I joke about preparing to walk through naked with a guy ahead of me in line. He said it was likely only a few months away at the rate security was being ratcheted down. This time I was instructed to remove my belt. I wondered to myself why this man had skipped the step of buying me a drink first before being so outwardly forward. Being that he likely had a gun in his possession, I thought I would forgive his no-drink-purchase oversight and listen to him.

After nearly 90 minute in lines and in various states of undress, our bags were checked and we made our merry way to the gate where we could again wait to board a plane which the passengers were all waiting for and was parked at its gate already.

Next time I think I'll take a boat.

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