Flying is Fine — Extra Screening Sucks Hard

TSA Security Line
Thanks to flickr user redjar for the image.

I hate airports.  Not flying, flying I love.  But the process of dealing with airlines, and luggage, and most especially the TSA/Security Theater aspect of the process drives me crazy.  I flew down to SJC this week for a technical conference, MySQLConf.  It was a great conference: I met neat people, I learned new things, I got excited about tech again.  I loved that part.  The flight down was fine.  Easy, no problem through the airport.  Only the usual anxiety about the process.

But my flight back was a lot less enjoyable.  Well, not the flight, as I’m writing this post at about 11,000 feet above the Bay Area.  The part that sucked for me was the security line through SJC.

I was in line with my friend Sarah, and we were talking.  We get to the security area.  I pull off my belt, put all my stuff in the trays, and take off my shoes.  The stuff goes into the x-ray machine to be scanned.  I walk through the metal detector. *BEEP BEEP BEEP* “What happened?” I think to myself: I don’t have any metal on me.  I made sure of that.  They usher me into the holding pen.  A plexiglass and aluminum box 4ft by 8ft.  I feel like an animal in a cage.  Someone comes over quickly, and they take my shoes.  I am told go with him, and I do. “You’ve been selected for extra screening,” he says to me.  We do the whole dance with them swabbing my shoes, and putting it into the spectrography machine.  The graph has a few little bumps on it, no idea why.  They pick up my shoes and hand them back to me and tell me to have a nice flight. “Thanks.”

I hate this so much.  I feel powerless and afraid of what will happen to me because of something I may have stepped in, or any number of scenarios that may come to view.  I feel fear, and I hate it.

I am really really happy that Sarah was with me to safeguard my possessions while I was put through the process.  And to walk with afterward.  We stopped at Noah’s Bagels and got a bite.  That was good.  I calmed down inside, and we waited by the gate to board our flight.  No problems, and smooth sailing so far.  It feels good to write this out, to share it, to give it a voice.  I hate the process, and I know why it’s there.

Fear.

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