16 March 2012


While standing in the long, slow security line for a recent flight to Chicago, juggling to get my laptop and a small bag of liquid and gels out of my bags, my coat off, my belt off, my shoes off my feet, my pockets emptied, the loathsome med-alert necklace off from around my neck, I noticed a sign I’d never seen before. “Passengers 12 and under do not need to remove their shoes and coats.”

This morning as I was leafing through the L.A. Times over my coffee, I came across this article: “A pass for some older air travelers.” The gist of the story is that starting this coming Monday, some air travelers 75 or older will also be allowed through security lines without taking off their shoes, coats, etc. and will be much less likely to be asked to step aside to be frisked. The program is being started on a trial basis in Chicago, Denver, Orlando and Portland, Oregon because those airports have a high percentage of elderly travelers.

I have long suspected that an awful lot of what the TSA makes us go through in airport security lines is more for show than for actual security. Maybe the show does have a deterrent effect on most of us. But now they’ve just announced that two whole groups of people don’t have to worry about it.

Are there no elderly terrorists? Or are there no old people who can’t be convinced, bribed, bullied or blackmailed into carrying weapons and/or explosives onto an airplane? “We’ve got your beloved grandson, put this under your coat.”

One of my grandmothers was a fairly nasty piece of work, and bullheaded and wasn’t going to do what she didn’t want to do for anybody or any reason. The other, however, all sweetness and light and fluff was as gullible as a person gets – she could be manipulated into almost anything.

And kids? Don’t get me started on kids. They are little more than short sociopaths, especially these days when they are constantly told they are everybody’s little darlings. A kid will do anything if you approach it right and dangle the right treat in front of it. “Mommy loves you, darling. I know the vest is heavy under your coat and that your shoes fit funny, but don’t worry, it won’t be for long and you’ll get your reward soon.”

I’ve always been nervous when I’ve spotted nuns on planes that I’m on. What are they keeping under their habits? Now add the elderly and kids to the list.

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