Barry Smith: Irrelativity
September 14, 2009
St. Paul, Minn. – I feel bad writing a column about airport security every time I fly, but I think I’ll feel worse when I start to take it for granted. So …
There are some exciting new developments at the Aspen Airport, ones worth checking out even if you’re not flying anywhere. Seems that TSA got a new laminating machine! Or they learned to use their old one. This, combined with the discovery of some brightly colored paper and an employee with a passion for busy work, means that the security area is now a bright, shiny, freshly laminated, screaming billboard for airline security efficiency. Neon yellow, orange, green and pink signs now hang on every hangable surface as you approach the X-ray machine. These signs remind you, constantly, of the importance of keeping your boarding pass with you, removing your shoes first, taking all metal from your pockets NOW, and so on. Collect ’em all.
My backpack got flagged for a search. Again. The guy gloved up and started fishing around in it. I’ve not packed lightly for this trip, so there was plenty of stuff for him to find. I asked him what he was looking for, just in case I might know were it is. “Ah,” he declared, his arm elbow-deep in my backpack. “This is probably it.” Meanwhile I’m wondering what I could have packed that was such a clear security risk to me and my fellow passengers and, let’s not mince words here – my country. He triumphantly pulled out a tube of Glue Stick and two Cliff bars. He put them in a bin and ran them through the machine. He ran my bag again, too. Then I was clear to go.
A Glue Stick and two Cliff bars (oatmeal raisin). That was the cause of the hubbub. I suspect that somebody is currently making a sign about removing all raisin-based energy snacks and art supplies from your bag before X-raying. I wonder what color they’ll use? I wonder when, as a collective, we’ll all yell “HOW DOES TREATING US LIKE HUMAN CATTLE HELP KEEP US SAFE?” Probably not soon. Just pay your money, take your shoes off and throw your water away lest you try to bring the plane down through some sinister hydration method. And shut up.
In all fairness, it probably wasn’t the Glue Stick that alerted security. Or the Cliff bars. It was most likely the combination. Weird combinations can throw people off.
(Oh, how I loves a clunky segue …)
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I’m writing this in St. Paul, Minn., while sitting in a coffee shop that’s also a glasses store. As in prescription glasses. You can get glasses AND coffee. This just screams for a humorous riff, right? Just make a list of other random combination of shops, like a bakery in a Jiffy Lube, or a hardware store/hair salon combo. Like that, only funnier. But I don’t live in a city, so maybe this is just the way things are in the real world. Maybe many of you actually have your hair done at Builder’s Emporium. I don’t want to flaunt my ignorance any more than is necessary. Still, it’s hard for me to imagine someone being suggestible enough that they’d stop in for coffee and suddenly realizing they need new glasses. But they’re still in business, so it must happen.
I’m in St. Paul to perform a condensed version of one of my comedy shows for a room full of people who could potentially change my life. No pressure, though. No, just kidding. Actually, there’s more pressure than I’ve ever felt. If I do well, these people will bring me to their respective towns to perform in their theatre. Hoorah! If I suck, well … I go home with nothing but bitter memories of St. Paul.
I had a similar chance in N.Y. earlier in the year and I kinda blew it – I got up in front of a bunch of “important” people and flailed. Ugh. So I really have to bring it this time.
For weeks now I’ve rehearsed, I’ve meditated, I’ve concentrated, I’ve affirmed – but I feel like there’s something missing, and the show is tomorrow night. There’s gotta be something I can do that will totally guarantee my success.
Wait a minute, I’ve just had a brilliant idea!
I’ll get new glasses!
Barry’s column appears Mondays. Read more at http://www.barrysmith.com.
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