April 3rd, 2003


Professor Frink, Professor Frink, he'll make ya laugh, he'll make you think...

I have this piece of luggage. At least one of you is familiar with it. It's huge. In a big city, I could sublet it as an apartment. It is sometimes affectionately, sometimes apprehensively, and most times redoubtably, called the NFJ luggage.

This luggage is No F'ing Joke.

Now, I tend to overpack. Horrendously. This trip was no exception. NFJ was packed to the gills1. Now, I've never really had a problem with NFJ before.2 Neither have any of the airlines. Perhaps it was because we're at terror alert Ernie3, perhaps it was because the luggage guy was snitty, but this time, Delta insisted I bring it down to acceptable weight levels. They gave me a cardboard box. It looked like a pet carrier (but in retrospect, that may have been because I closed it up using my mad oragami skills incorrectly). It cost $10 (but they didn't charge me... I paid in the pain and embarassment of having to unpack my luggage in the middle of the airport).

They also told me that I'd need to remove my locks.

Now, I'm not too keen on that. I like my locks. "But ldy!" I hear you exclaim4, "what about airport security?!" Security, schmecurity. Allowing someone to dig through my delicates isn't going to make air travel a whole lot safer. At best, it will merely reveal a certain person's addiction to Victoria's Secret5.

If I wanted to terrorize a flightful of people, I wouldn't need a gun, a knife, or the latest in immolative6 Nikes. No.

The only implement necessary for terror is a human mind.

It'd help if I were 6'5" and made of muscle, and perhaps had a few close psychologically-imbalanced friends along too, but really, even that isn't necessary. Just a basic understanding of psychology and cojones7. So yeah, while the ongoing erosion of my privacy may make air travel a little safer, I'd be more than a little wary of any government who insisted on my trading freedom for security for my own good, and removing probable cause as a condition of invasion of privacy.

Oomph. Hey, how'd that soapbox get here? Jeez. A girl could trip over something like that.

So anyway, When I arrived at my destination, I found a nice note in my luggage. Since I hadn't remembered having packed a nice note in my luggage, I thought it worth reading.
To protect you and your fellow passengers, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is required by law to inspect all checked baggage. As part of this process, some bags are opened and physically inspected. Your bag was among those selected for physical inspection.

Now, if they're required by law to inspect ALL checked baggage, and SOME are opened and physically inspected, what about the rest?

"As part of your plea bargain, you have agreed to assist your government in identification of terrorist activities. So, what do you see in THIS bag, Miss Cleo?"
During the inspection, your bag and its contents may have been searched for prohibited items. At the completion of the inspection, the contents were returned to your bag, which was then resealed with a tamper-evident clear plastic seal. this seal is unique to Albany International Airport, TSA. An exact size dipiction is on the reverse side of this pamphlet.

Pardon, but WTF is a dipiction? I think I'll use that for CMUWOTDWT. It's DEPICTION8.

Now, let me tell you about this seal. It is tamper-evident, its very existence providing clear evidence that things were tampered with. It's the standard plastic zip seal, such as you might find, well, anywhere.9 Except it's now unique to Albany International Airport. Meaning that they did not send my bag to some other airport to have it surrepticiously searched, which is reassuring.

The other side of the pamphlet did, indeed have an illustration. Actual size and everything! My favorite part, though, is the slogan up top: "Smart Security Saves Time." Not lives. Time. So now I'm all kinds of confused. Are they saying that opening and physically inspecting 60% of luggage is actually faster than not doing so, or that this entire premise isn't smart?

Don't mind me. Someday, I hope that I won't have to watch privacy dissolving in the acid of fear. In the meantime, maybe I can incite a few laughs and plant a few seeds. :)

1 Not actual gills
2 Sure, i've nearly been crushed under its awesome weight a time or two, but I've never had a problem as such.
3 Terror alert, muppet style: cookie monster (blue), oscar (green), bert (yellow), ernie (orange), elmo (red). No, I didn't make that up.
4 Really, I heard you.
5 This certain person will remain unnamed *cough*
6 I'm not certain that this is a "real" word. But I think it should be, based on immolate, 2
7 Not a basic understanding of cajones, just cajones. I realize the sentence structure was a bit awkward, but work with me here, folks!
8 Our president has made up some good words in his time, but I hold our Transportation Security Administration to a higher standard. (And shoot, I really need to update those memories!)
9 Basically, if it were fifty times larger, it would look like a dildo, followed by 38 anal beads, followed by a funnel.
* this space intentionally left blank
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