Tag Archives: TSA

Keep the Prayers Coming

I really enjoyed our online novena last week.  It was nice to know that I was being prayed for and to pray for others, not just my own intentions.  It was also especially gratifying to spread devotion to St. Rita.

cajetan

St. Cajetan (Gaetano) the Theatine, patron of the unemployed and job-seekers.

Things started to move on the job front, if only slightly.  You have to understand that I’ve never been in this position.  I resigned from my job and I am 100% positive this was the right decision.  I know God is asking me to trust Him right now.  I know He will lead me somewhere better.  Tonight I had a meeting with the principal of a phenomenal school.  We spoke openly and honestly and it certainly looks like there might be a job for me there.  Next school year.

So that leaves me with next month…

It will be interesting for sure.  I will probably have to take non-teaching work in the meantime which is not something I was looking for.  So for the sake of humor I will now walk through a few possible scenarios.

 

TSA

Everyone’s favorite government agency is ALWAYS hiring.  Lucky for me I have a MAJOR airport five miles from my house.  The up side?  I love airports.  The down side?  I hate putting my hands on other guys’ legs.  True, I could have some fun with the X-ray machines imagining things that aren’t really there and then calling them in.  Also, I understand that people in these kinds of jobs are generally not altogether there.  With a pinch of ingenuity and a pulse I could be a real standout.  Unfortunately I don’t look good in blue.

RETAIL

nordstrom

Actual Nordstrom where I worked years ago.  Or not.  They all look alike.

When I was in college I worked in a Nordstrom department store.  My customer service skills are top notch.  It also helped that I worked for the only retail outlet on the planet where they say the customer is always right and then actually mean it.  I remember one time I took a return.  It was a $1000 leather jacket that had not been purchased in a Nordstrom.  We know this because we had never sold that jacket.  Furthermore it was 20 years old, frayed, and had a dead rat in the breast pocket.  Apparently Mr. Nordstrom believed it was better to have a satisfied customer in the store with cash in his hand than to upset the delicate flower.  I remembered those words as the customer was quickly exiting the store with a thousands bucks in hand laughing at the security camera.

FAST FOOD

This could work.  I like to eat fast food.  By that logic, though, I should work in a liquor store.  Let’s come back to this one…

TELEVISION

You know I used to work as a writer and producer in this exciting medium.  If I was any good I’d have been the breakout star of 2005.  Still, there are several large media outlets in my neck of the woods.  Unfortunately not only can I not get the Texas drawl down but I can’t seem to shake my Jersey accent.  I’d be a bigger fish out of water than that large fish a friend of mine caught.  Wow that was a really bad literary device.

PUBLIC SAFETY

fire

See… I couldn’t get this huge if I tried.

I’d consider the FBI if I weren’t too old.  I’d consider a police force but my back injuries would probably rule me out.  I’d consider the fire department.  Let’s think about this one.  1) Every fireman I know is ridiculously huge – like GI Joe proportions only taller.  Yes Grady, even you.  There isn’t enough protein in the world to make this frame that size.  2) Having lived through a multiple-fatal house fire as a child the psychological trauma of running into a burning building would make it impossible for me to do my job.  3) I can only imagine the first time an alarm rings and I have to shimmy down the pole.  I would think of a TV segment I produced for a news program in New York.  It was about a new workout called “the stripper workout”.  Seriously.  The mental image of our aging anchor dancing around a pole would make me incontinent with laughter and I would fall through the hole in the floor breaking multiple bones.  Thus I would be rendered incapable of fighting fires that day.

So there you have it.  Looks like I’ll have to get creative.  I’m open to suggestions so let’s hear ’em.  Or you could just continue to pray for me.  Otherwise I’m going to get real familiar with Wendy Williams and Kelly Ripa.  That’s a fate worse than death.

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Is That A Titanium Rod in Your Spine or Are Your Just Happy to See Me?…

Friends, two days ago I was a victim of sexual victimization.  Sorry, I can think of no other term.  To call it abuse or harassment demeans the very real horror that others have suffered.  Trust me, this is actually a funny tale.  Let me explain.

Kind of looks like the snow-capped Rocky Mountains.  You'd never know the horror that lies within.

Kind of looks like the snow-capped Rocky Mountains. You’d never know the horror that lies within.

After saying goodbye to my good friend Dan at the curb on the east side of the main terminal at Denver International Airport (DIA) I walked in the building, printed my boarding pass from a kiosk, and walked right back out for a smoke.  You see, I wasn’t checking any baggage (except emotional) and my flight wasn’t scheduled to depart for another three hours.  I knew I had this thing well timed and well thought out.  So, three cigs later I wandered back into the terminal.  I think I made a phone call and gabbed with one of my sisters back East.  Then I went back out for another smoke.  Then I came back in.  I glanced down from the top level where I was standing to see very light security lines.  DIA has one of those obnoxious set-ups.  You know the kind?  There is one main terminal that handles all ticketing, check-in’s, and baggage claim.  Then there are mid-field concourses only accessible via an underground train system.  At DIA there are three such concourses.  The difference between this airpot and others of a similar ilk like, say, ATL (Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International House of Pancakes) is that the first concourse is also accessible via an overhead walkway.  It’s really neat because passengers can look down and see large jets taxiing to their gates right underneath them.  As far as our friends at TSA are concerned this also means there must be an additional layer of security.  Passengers can choose either to descend to the lowest level of the main terminal and wander through an endless maze of security lines only to then descend even further to the train or they can walk the skybridge and take their chances at the security lines at the other end.  If you choose the latter it is likely because your flight departs from the first concourse.  That was the case with me.

I’ve flown in and out of this airport before.  I have always found the bridge security line much lighter.  Lucky for me I was always flying from Concourse A.  Today was no different.  So after a few more puffs I finally decided it was time to make my way back.  Wouldn’t want to be too early and be stuck with no smoking lounges.  Have I mentioned before how stupid I think some of these airports are?  Look, people smoke.  Get over it.  Especially in a state like Colorado where they just legalized weed, for heaven’s sake, you’d think they’d be more tolerant of the non-mind-altering stuff.  Airports like Dulles in Northern Virginia and the aforementioned ATL have well-ventilated smoking lounges in the concourses.  This way, passengers who choose to light up do not have to be re-screened and thus waste everyone’s time.  The reason I headed back when I did is that I had discovered, through an app on my phone, that there was indeed one solitary smoking location past security.  It was all the way in the third and final concourse.  No problem, I thought…  I’ll just walk the bridge, get myself nudey x-rayed, and hop a train from there out to C for a smoke and an overpriced gin and tonic.

And then I got to the checkpoint.  I watched as little old ladies argued with the agents because they did not know they could leave their shoes on.  “You mean I removed my shoes for nothing?!”  I know the whole thing is a sham.  Come on.  You want to tell me that minimum-wage workers are really getting trained in how to read x-rays?  I had an MRI on my lumbar spine and the radiologist could barely read it.  And he went to med school!  This is all to say nothing of the fact that we all know those ridiculous backscatter machines (the nudey ones) are probably unsafe at any speed.  I know I should be bothered by the fact that naked images of me are being recorded and viewed by idiots in a booth but I really don’t care.  Is that wrong?  Of course it is.

I reached the front of the line and a pleasant, older gentleman scanned my boarding pass.  It started beeping (the machine with which he scanned it, that is).  “What in the world was this fresh hell?” I thought to myself.  Well, it didn’t seem to be anything because he looked at my license and then started underlining everything in sight including the name of the airline.  “Oh well,” I thought, “Keep moving.”  I pulled my shoes off, whipped my belt out, unfastened my back brace, put my backpack and the box containing my other back brace all in the plastic bin with all my other worldly belongings on the conveyor belt.  And then it happened.

I was motioned to step into the machine.  I dutifully stood with my feet on the yellow foot marks.  I always do it slightly askew to piss them off.  I raised my hands above my head like the common criminal my government thinks I am.  I wanted to raise one of my digits above my head as well.  But just as quickly I was summoned forth, out of the machine.  The female agent on the other side put her hand up to me in a stopping motion.  I stopped.  She pointed to a monitor and then with her other hand motioned for a male agent.  He materialized out of nowhere, simultaneously snapping a pair of latex gloves on his delicate hands.  Dork.  He then spoke the following to me.

“Sir, I have to pat down the upper regions of the backs of your legs.”

“You mean… my ass?” I responded, literally not knowing how to field that statement.

The airport train at Concourse C.  That drink couldn't come fast enough.

The airport train at Concourse C. That drink couldn’t come fast enough.

“It’s all routine, sir,” he shot back with a blank stare.  “I also have to investigate your lower back and some other things.”  As he said this his voice trailed off.  This was a bit creepy.  At no time was I given the option to step into a private screening area.  Nope.  The old bag with the ortho shoes was sitting two feet away in her wheelchair.  Before he hit the last word of that last sentence his hands were tightly wrapped around my upper thighs.   “Hey now!” I said with a bit of a laugh.  Last time that happened I had just slipped a platinum band on someone’s finger earlier in the day.  “Routine, sir.”  Really?  You routinely grab other guys’ thighs?  What was on your resume to get this job?  Bouncer at Studio 54?  Understudy for the dance troupe of J-Lo… “Oh my God!” I shouted.  He had gone there.  He had grabbed my buttocks.  It all happened so quickly.  Apparently this is routine.  And then, on his return trip, he came within a millimeter of what God and my Daddy gave me.  Although I normally don’t mind representing the family name well, I was so stunned by what was taking place that I flinched.  He jumped back.  “You know I have titanium rods in my spine, right?  I mean, you can see that on the machine pretty clearly, right?  Right, sir?” I said.  “Irrelevant.  Routine, sir.”  I didn’t know what to say.  I think my explanation must have made him realize how stupid he looked doing his whole prison pat-down routine.  I calmly walked over and put my shoes, belt, and brace back on.  I gathered my other belongings and wandered off over the bridge into the distance.

And then I rode the train to happy town — which at DIA is a bar called Great Smokey Teton Smoking Bar or something like that.  “Sir, there’s a minimum drink order to smoke in here,” I heard as I walked through the door, lit Marlboro already dangling from my lips.  “Oh don’t worry, my friend, I think I’ll hit that and then some.”

I came home and hugged my wife.  And cried.

 

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

Taking the Car to the Plane

Before heading out on a flight, even a flight home at the end of a four-day excursion for your mom’s birthday and Easter, it’s a good idea to run through a checklist of all your belongings. In this day and age, one cannot be too cautious concerning what the TSA allows and what it bans in various carry-on’s and suitcases. Furthermore, one would hate to cause a delay for the passengers also proceeding through screening checkpoints – even if it is Harrisburg “International” Airport.

20120409-154908.jpg
Getting ready to zip through security…

Here’s my sample checklist.

    Clothes we came with – check
    Toiletries (apparently in three ounce bottles and then in a clear plastic bag – check
    Several bags of Easter candy left by a bunny who works for Hershey Foods -check
    Books, iPad, iPhone, chargers – check
    Rosaries for me and my son – check
    Motion activated toy of a car that says things sure to get us kicked off this flight and onto the no-fly list – check

While packing, I took the large box that Easter Bunny left for my son. It was a set of GeoTrax that had been tied-in with the Disney movie Cars 2. The theme was “Big Bently”. As I zipped the carry-on closed I heard: “He’s breached the security. Our rendezvous has been compromised.”. It only took me ten minutes to figure the source and exactly how it was being produced. You’ve got to roll the wheels…

20120409-155025.jpg
Thanks to some Scotch tape, we’ll be on our way soon.