With three dogs, thirty chickens and several gardens to look after I don’t travel nearly as much as I used to, but I still love to as often as I can get away.  Like a lot of folks I used to love air travel when I was younger, now I much prefer going by car or train.  I loved flying so much as a kid it was half the fun of the trip-I loved the speed and ease of it, the little soaps and lotions in the bathroom, the kind attendants serving personal-sized meals.  I realize if you’re under 25 or so you have no idea how great it used to be.

My experience of flying these days is close to the polar opposite and how nostalgic that makes me for the good ole’ days.  So I question, have I become my grandfather, or is it really as bad as all that?

Well, I’ll share my most recent experiences and impressions and let y’all be the judges.  Last week, trying to change a reservation to Edinburgh, Scotland for later this month I was on hold for over 30 minutes, transferred three times and treated with such condescension by a British Airways agent that I’ve complained in writing and will continue to do so until someone actually calls me back.  I’m sure I’ll be waiting a long time and wasting a lot of paper.  From here the stories get much more serious.

On every round-trip flight I’ve taken since 9/11 I’ve been singled out for some sort of “extra” screening even beyond the recent see-me-naked machines.  Each time I ask why I’ve been singled out from the hundreds of people in the security line or in the process of boarding the plane and I’m told this is “random.”  Really?  I’ve been felt up, my luggage riffled through, or my hands swabbed “randomly” on every round-trip flight I’ve taken in the last decade.  What are the odds of this?

More importantly, are all these intrusive rules and regulations making us any safer?  I think not, in part because of the randomness of it all and the arbitrary sense of power it gives a few over the many.    Apparently to numerous TSA staff not only do I look like someone who would be assembling explosives just before my flight, but also like someone stupid enough to not sanitize my hands afterwards.  Or is it that I just look like someone passive enough to not complain too much?

Still, in one such random episode where my person and carry-on luggage got an extra search and swab on an overseas flight not a single agent in our cumbersome process found the very large camping knife from my last road trip that I’d forgotten about and was still tucked into the “secret” side pocket of my bag. I removed the laptop, the mini-baggie of toiletries, the phone, the hair clip I was wearing along with my shoes and the silk shirt buttoned-up over my tank top, but I’d totally forgotten about the knife.   Careless on my part, maybe even stupid, but for TSA some real proof in the fruitless pudding.

As another case in point let’s consider the young stowaway on a recent flight from Manchester to Rome.  I wonder what kind of new regulations this potential terrorist will cast upon us all.  Considering a single shoe-bomber was able to force us all to walk barefoot across questionably-diseased surfaces for the rest of our traveling years I suspect there will be all kinds of new rules to save us from this type of catastrophe.  I’m so looking forward to the future gum-bomber, when we’ll all have to say “aahhh” for the various safety-conscious agents to orally examine us.

Oh but wait, there’s been numerous well-publicized reports of stowaways on aircraft, so it seems TSA hasn’t gotten crafty enough yet to fashion some new absurd regulations to prevent them.  I’ll wait for that with bated breath.  In the meantime, I’ll be pondering the fact that any potential terrorist needs not even a valid ID to purchase their own aircraft or take professional flying lessons from a reputable school.  Thank heavens we’re all feeling so safe.

And for all the agents bound to give me and my luggage an extra search and swab, I’ll now be pinning glue traps in my bags and crotch.  That’s what I call my own wee-passive brand of sabotage.

And just so you know, that’s legal, so far!