Friday, June 16, 2006

Airport Stories (Alternate Title: Jenni's Takes A Stab At Racial Profiling.)

Yesterday I had a day trip to Chicago that consisted of flying there early and flying back late. Completely uneventful and totally exhausting. As a matter of fact, to let you all know how uneventful it actually was, the highlight was seeing Jesse Jackson escorted through security while I was standing in line with the rest of the “common folk” waiting to be poked, prodded, and felt up like cattle being led off to slaughter.

I hate airports, and I loathe flying, which I think has everything to do with being suspended twenty-seven thousand feet in the air in a machine with breakable parts and mechanics that are more than likely on strike, or at least preparing to go on strike. So, when I finally made it through security I immediately headed for the bar, which I soon found out is where everyone else went. There were lines outside each bar that stretched for a good city block, all for what I assumed to be a little liquid relaxation

I passed up a few offers to join some tables and decided to hit the convenience shop for some eight-dollar eye drops and Chex Mix to tide me over while I sat at the gate, hid myself from the rest of the world, cozied up in the corner with my book, “The Devil Wears Prada”, and tried to forget where I actually was, which did work, for about 45 seconds.

The flight that was supposed to have taken off from the gate my flight was landing at hadn’t, and had been sitting there for about 45 minutes while the mechanics were fixing something, so my flight was moved a few gates down from B9 to B4.

I gathered up my things and made the trek down to my new gate passing a bar that had since cleared from the swarms of people that had earlier occupied it. Finding myself a seat next to a modern day hippie reading some vintage Jane Eyre, I ordered a glass of red wine and zoned out. It didn’t take me long to realize that no one at this bar was smiling, they all ordered their beers, and cocktails and sat there, staring at the television that was broadcasting CNN which was covering a story on Al Queida.

Seriously, though, CNN? In an AIRPORT? They might as well just show footage of the two commercial aircraft flying into the World Trade Center again…just to refresh our memories. Why don’t they broadcast something fun and lighthearted, like “Sponge Bob Square Pants”, or “Good Times?”

15 minutes to board. I finished my glass and headed for the gate, which was packed. I positioned myself behind the last row of seats, set down my computer case and did something I do every time I step foot on an aircraft…I scanned the crowd.

First, I do the natural thing and look for all the people of Middle-eastern descent. Shut-up, you know you do it too. If I see more than four of them I get a little nervous. In this instance there were only two or three, one I couldn’t really tell if he was middle-eastern or just really tan. They didn’t appear to pose much of a threat, at least not enough for a bomb…maybe a little C4 in the shoe, but definitely not a bomb.

I glance to my right to see what appears to be an escapee wearing a dingy green t-shirt, jeans, combat boots, and prison tattoos that cover both arms and part of his neck. He bears an uncanny resemblance to Charles Manson and is staring directly at me. I forego the possibility of using the bathroom for fear of ending up in pieces in the duffel bag he has resting at his feet.

Next, I look for the huge black dudes to counter-act the Muslims. You know, the ones that are at lest six foot five and weigh over three bills, which is ironic because if I were to seek them out in a dark alley I would most probably be frightened, but on an airplane they’re my best friends. I see one of them and he’s collapsed on the floor taking a nap.

Now it’s time to find the kids and pray to GOD that they are not sitting next to me. I see a family of five with three kids ranging in age from five to nine and watch in horror as they polish off a four-pound bag of gummy bears.

And finally, the geriatrics. It is here I look for the man, at least 50+ years old with the beer gut and cholesterol that is higher than Lindsey Lohan on a Friday night. I see him directly in front of me shoving the last fistful of his BK “Meatwhich” into his mouth as I calculate the possibility of having to do an emergency landing in Milwaukee in the event that the very last pinhole of his heavily clogged artery is finally closed for good. After he’s able to breathe again, he wipes the sweat from his brow, washes the meaty mass down with a chocolate shake and opens a Snickers. Shit. I’m screwed.


Momentary Academic said...

You are one funny lady. I will be at the airport in a week and I'll be thinking about all of these things. Haha.

The Muse said...

I will admit that I'm guilty of the same thing. One of my first flights with my family home from Vegas to Atlanta, there was a group of Middle Eastern gentlemen sitting at random intervals throughout the plane. We were all sitting there, boarded and waiting for the crew to finish loading our luggage, when they started talking to each other in Urdu (or whatever language it was - I'm just using the Pakistani language as an example), across the plane. That was enough to make my dad nervous, and he asked that we be escorted from the plane and moved to the next flight.

Of course, the plane landed safely in Atlanta, showing that we were jumping to conclusions. However, I make no apologies for that decision - if I'd been flying by myself, I would've done the same thing. Its just the world we live in.

BlackJack said...

I can honestly say that I don't scan the crowd for middle eastern faces. I'm mostly comfortable with flying, the only part that gives me trouble is landing. And that's due to a rough landing in Providence during a blizzard several years back.

I have discovered the best way to make plane trips shorter. Su Doku puzzles and a fully charged iPod. Made my last 5 hour plane ride feel more like 45 minutes. It was sweet.

the belligerent intellectual said...

For future reference, I think using the word "stab" and "racial" in a title counts as a hate crime.

As for flying, I've found that as long as you're "the guy who farts," even the most undesirable people will leave you alone.

Bud said...

Jenni, that is priceless! I just got back from five separate airplane rides and I can attest to the accuracy of all you have observed. The screeners seem to be pretty thorough, though. When I travel to do a gig and check my guitar in a special trunk, they invariably open it and remove the pre-amp battery, which is fine. Then they drop it down the sound whole, where it bounces around inside my guitar for a few hours. Not fine. I HAVE to remember to ship without batteries. I could pack them in mhy gummy bears.

Teri M. said...

Ech - I hate flying. I believe that it is unnatural to fling people up into the sky in an aluminum tube. Not that I was complaining in the 747 to Rome, but, ya know, in general. The Spouse flies a lot, and is starting to get really irritated with the attitudes of the security checkers. That's pretty much his only issue.
Hm. I seem to have forgotten where I was going with this.
Nice. Spazzi McSpazzicomments strikes again.

ducklet said...

that's funny about the cnn thing. it reminds me of when i got out of NYC on Sept 14, 2001. i was flying jetblue and the first thing i did was turn my direct tv set to CNN so that i could watch all the crash highlights as i flew away.

well, not like 'ha ha' funny.

but i've flown so much that i actually WANT to sit next to the guy with the fuse sticking out of his shoe. there's been many flights where i'm sure i'd probably help the guy with matches. i remember one flight to missouri where we circled the airport for over an hour and i think i may have said, 'god, where's a terrorist when you need one?'

i'm not welcome in missouri.

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

We should be thankful we're not stewardesses.

And yes, I scan the plane for terrorist-looking people, too.

Barry said...

SO funny! A great politically incorrect people watcher's guide. Hey what about the 'stinky people' oh gag! when they sit near you.

mcBlogger said...

I'm reading the Devil Wears Prada as well. It's not exactly intellectually challenging but it's a hoot. I'm enjoying.

Huevos McGringo said...

when i'm on a plane, i tend to smile at middle eastern folks reassuringly, like "obviously you're not a terrorist." upon reflection, i'm sure that just makes the guy more self-conscious.

djmetronome said...

I always get "old sweaty fat lady" that smells like cats and maple syrup, and comes with pictures of her grandaughter in tow.

I'm glad I never get "screaming baby" because I'd most likely go crazy and yell back at the thing

love your blog

bigus dickus said...

Racial profile my cock.