Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Three-Donut Vacation: I. Three-Donut Vacation

I don't think most of us get extra screening because they think we are terrorists. I think we get it because they know we're not. They screen people who are not terrorists because it helps them pretend they are protecting us, in the same way doctors in the middle ages used to wear tall hats: because they couldn't cure you. It's all show...

This is a flying nation. We fly. And everyone knows airport security is an increasingly sad joke, that TSA itself often appears to have forgotten its mission, if it ever knew it, and taken on a new one--the ritual abuse of passengers.

-- Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, 23 February, 2006

For a history of our problems with the TSA, see the blog entry and the dozen or so posts that follow.

I have to say my vacation was the best I've ever had. I even had two days at home after the trip to lounge about and catch up on the mail. It was truly a three-donut vacation.

Oh, wait, did I say that out loud?

What I MEANT to say is OMG, I am SO glad to be home after the most horrendous misadventure with the Teleportation Security Administration!

It began, as most things do, innocently enough. Sweetie and I were doing a routine teleport.

Well, routine for us. Sweetie was wearing a bomb avatar. It didn't help that she kept making that whistling I'm-Falling-From-the-Sky sound.

But even then, we would have been okay if that TSA bastard at the security gate hadn't tried to nab my bottle of perfume.

"What's the deal?" I said. "It's in a quart-sized Ziploc bag, as regulation 44J-23-10-A2 requires."

"Ah, yes," he said. "But 44J-23-10-A2 says you can transport a 3-ounce bottle of liquid. This bottle is four ounces." He reached for it.

I moved it out of range. "What if I had two three-ounce bottles?" I asked.

"That would be acceptable," he said.

"So it's okay to bring six ounces of potentially explosive plane-destroying liquid aboard, but not four?"

"Pretty much," he said.

"I'm going to stand right here until I use up an ounce," I said. I imagined it would take weeks.

"Won't work," he said. "The bottle would still hold four ounces. And you would technically be loitering."

"Do you have a three-ounce bottle you could lend me? Or sell to me?"

"Afraid not," he said, and grabbed the bottle.

Strangely enough, when he tried to snatch it away, the bottle remained in my hand. His hand was attached to it, but didn't seem to be connected to the rest of his body.

"Sweetie," I said. "Tell me you didn't!"

"He was messing with my girl," she said, wiping her katana carefully and sliding it into its scabbard.

"My hand!" screamed the TSA agent. "They cut of my f***ing hand! I was just following procedures!"

"Oh, grow up!" Sweetie said. "This is Second Life. You can always reattach it."

"Help! Help!" he screamed, and a sea of blue shirts began to move toward us.

"Run for it!" I screamed to Sweetie, and I dashed through the metal detector and toward the nearest aircraft. Sweetie was close behind, despite stopping to have her boarding pass scanned. Sweetie is by nature law-abiding.

We scrambled down the jetway and through the entry door of the plane. Sweetie, behind me, pulled the door to and latched it.

"Listen up!" I yelled. "We are commandeering this aircraft in the name of the independent nation-state of Whimsy. We will be departing for Whimsy immediately. Stay calm and in your seats and everything will be fine. Nobody will get hurt. And extra peanuts for everyone!"

"What she said," said Sweetie, who had taken a post beside the pilot. Her katana was out again, its burnished blade reflecting the multicolored lights of the instruments. She waggled the tip at the pilot. "Quick, now! I want to hear those turbines!"

Fifteen minutes later, having hustled the first-class passengers back to the tourist section, Sweetie and I were sprawled in plush seats and knocking back Cosmopolitans. Sweetie was rapidly getting plastered.

"Do you notice something unusual about the stewardess?" she asked.

I took a long look. "No," I said, "although she looks a bit like..."

"Exactly," said Sweetie.