HANG IT UP, JAMES
23 April 2002
Remember all those special doo dads that "Q" was always rigging up for James?
The explosive belt, the umbrella sword, the rotary saw watch, the shaving cannister
flamethrower, the glove gun, etc., etc.. All these great toys helped to catch the bad guys
in movie after movie.
Well, lemme tell ya, unless James is flyin' on his own Lear jet, there ain't no
way he's getting any of that stuff through the new and improved airport security.
On my recent trip to Rochester, I won the lottery and got to have the luggage I was
checking through searched. It's always such fun to see your life, and all your most
intimate items spread out for all the world to see. At least at that end of the trip, the
undies were clean.
Not only was my checked luggage searched, but at each of the three plane changes, I was
pulled out of line for a carry-on and shoe search. Three times of tying and untying the
shoes, proving the camera really worked, and watching them paw through used Kleenex and
year old throat lozenges to make sure I didn't have an AK47 stashed away somewhere
in the bottom of my purse.
(I was very glad on that trip that I'd already started to lose weight, so I was able to
bend over in order to tie and untie the shoes.)
For the trip to Seattle, I got smart and wore slip-on shoes. Good thing because once
again my shifty-eyed squint caught the attention of airport security and I got "the
search." (I guess fat old ladies just look like terrorist material these days.)
This was my first body search and I was very glad that at least it was a female doing
the search, because she was so thorough with that wand of hers, you'd think she thought I
was wearing a metallic tampon. She felt my bra hooks to make sure they were really
designed to help keep my boobs in place, and not some device ready to be detaonated with
one deep breath.
She examined every inch of my shoes, inside and out. You have to feel sorry for someone
who spends her days feeling inside the stinky shoes of a parade of travelers.
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the topper was that she carefully patted, poked
and prodded my arms, from elbow to wrist. My bare arms. I'm not sure what she thought I
might have hidden under my skin.
Maybe she didn't believe arms this fat could really be all flesh, and that surely there
must be something hidden there somewhere. Perhaps a length of rope, coiled up inside, with
which to overcome the flight attendant, once I slit my wrists to slowly slide it out the
slit in my arm.
In any event, I passed the test. No hidden weapons or explosives to be found.
I realize that airport security has a job to perform and really we are all very
grateful that they are there, making our flights more safe. However, sometimes I think it
goes a little too far.
The other night, I saw Gary Shandling on television, talking about airport security. I
don't know if this was a comedy bit or not (probaby was), but he mentioned the pilot of an
airplane who had his nail clippers confiscated and the pointy part removed. When he asked
why, Shandling said he was told that it was because he might use it to take over the ship.
"I'm the pilot!" he said. "I always take over the ship!"
Whether Shandling was serious or not, Dr. G's wife picked me up at the airport today
and told her own pilot-security story. She's a flight attendant and says that after 9/11
security tightened up so much that if a flight is delayed and a pilot leaves the plane and
goes to get coffee for the flight attendants he sometimes has to leave the security area
to do so. He is not, then, permitted to bring more than one cup of coffee back through
security--presumably, she told me, because he could hide something in the second cup of
coffee. As she pointed out, if a pilot was going to destroy a plane, he certainly could
find a more efficient way of doing it than hiding something in a cup of coffee!!
There is obviously a real need for heightened security these days, but sometimes I
think it just goes too far.
By the same token, I don't really think I want to be sitting next to James Bond on a
commercial flight if he's wearing his exploding belt buckle or his rotary chain saw