Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years later

Sunday night, in my room at the Hampton Inn nearest the Baltimore airport, I reached inside my toiletries bag and found that my shampoo had leaked, that the cap hadn't been screwed on tightly.

That's odd, I thought. I distinctly remember checking the cap for tightness while I packed this morning.

My next thought was: The security guard who opened and searched my suitcase after I checked it must have opened the shampoo bottle to make sure it was shampoo and not an explosive.

There was no polite card in my suitcase like the ones I occasionally found in 2002 and 2003, cards saying, in effect, "So sorry we had to search your suitcase, we trust we didn't disturb anything too badly, thanks for understanding." I don't really expect those cards anymore.

Earlier Sunday, at the Charlotte, N.C., airport, the polite federal officer who tested my CPAP machine -- which never was pulled at a security checkpoint before 2006, but which invariably gets pulled now -- told me some airports now ban CPAP machines as carry-ons, requiring them to go into the hold as checked luggage instead.

Such a reassuring sound "checked luggage" now has in the mouths of security experts. We'll all be OK, they imply, if we just get the dicey stuff out of the cabin and into "checked luggage." Never mind that checked luggage brought down Pan Am Flight 103.

I didn't say any of this to the security guard, of course. He doesn't make the policy. I'm not sure anyone does.

Here's a quiz. Was my assumption that my suitcase and shampoo had been searched

  • A) Likely correct, given our current search-and-surveillance society; or

  • B) Likely incorrect, possibly even paranoid, but understandable given our current search-and-surveillance society.

    Whatever my answer, it must be A or B. I can imagine no C.

    All this went through my mind as I stood in my hotel room, staring at my suitcase. I shook my head and thought: Enough. I secured my shampoo and went to bed.

    kij johnson said...

    the weird pressure in planes (including their cargo areas makes the lids unscrew if they don't have much for threads or were loose to begin with. I have had this happen off and on for decades, which is why I put all liquid bottles into emergency ack-up Ziplocs.

    Hi, sweetie!

    amiamazing said...

    (C) All of the above. trust no one, accept all circumstances, there are no coincidences...

    Interesting that this post matches mine (beverages, gel, makeup), I think the next security procedure will be strip searching and human x-rays...or maybe they will illiminate air travel all together and further develop technology with virtual reality...


    Trish said...

    Hi Andy,

    Your previous commentators are spot on, as the Brits, who have more worries about losing their laptops than we Yanks do, would say.

    Your column did certainly make me think of Becky Akers, who, way before the masses figured it out, exposed the TSA for the weasels--or is it ferrets?--that they really are:

    And then, of course, there's me, me, me, and a bit of shameless self-promotion for my latest TSA tirade:

    But of course, it could have been more than your shampoo that they were after:

    So, be thankful you're alive, I suppose :)