Do not go home again but
if you do: drive.
I decided, finally, to go to my high school reunion. It was everything I thought it would be (almost no one remembered me, almost no one spoke to me, and the food was terrible but, because the Queen B – ahem – “Bee” had mistakenly assumed I was a vegetarian, I was able to order a special plate and thus was the only person in the place that got something edible for my $95).
On balance, though, it was a good thing that I went if for no other reason than the satisfaction of seeing how many deserving people had gotten fat, bald – and (unlike me) old. Plus it gave me plenty of material for a book because it turns out that the Queen B had been telling tall tales about me and saying rather nasty things about me to others and there were the escapees from Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum who had way too much work done, the people who got drunk and the snooty Mean Girl cheerleader who now looks like somebody’s dumpy granny … but you’ll have to read the book for the rest. What was also very interesting was what has happened to air travel.
If you haven’t flown in awhile you may not know about the TSA (aka Terminally Stupid Administration) which, when not stealing your stuff, keeps us all safe by keeping ticketed passengers from ever getting onto an airplane. Airlines love that because, if no one ever gets on the plane, their flights never have to actually depart, greatly reducing operating expenses.
This involves a multi-step process.
Step one: publicly humiliate passengers by forcing them to show their driver’s license photo to a bored TSA agent who then shows it to twenty of his co-workers, all of whom collapse in gales of laughter.
Step two: force all passengers to partially disrobe and submit to an “I’ll still respect you in the morning” full body scan after which twenty bored TSA agents watch the scanned image before collapsing in gales of laughter.
Steps three and four (optional): randomly pat down humiliated women traveling to high school reunions before randomly searching their carry-on luggage for undeclared facial creams and lotions which a woman in her undeclared age group desperately needs if she doesn’t want to look like the old people at her reunion.
And that is the problem. Because the TSA website specifically limits quantities of “liquids, gels, and aerosols” but says nothing – NOTHING (I know – I checked) – about creams. Or lotions. Which are creams and lotions. Not liquids.
So if they REALLY want to require them to be packed in a “3.4 ounce (100ml) container size” placed into one (1) “quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger” then they should clearly say “liquids, creams, lotions, gels, and aerosols” and not publicly humiliate women traveling to high school reunions because any person on the street will tell you a cream or a lotion is not – repeat NOT – a liquid. Beer is a liquid. Water is a liquid. But age fighting facial products which stay in a jar even when turned upside down? And which would never, ever be considered a liquid by anyone who works anyplace which is not the TSA?
I mean seriously: is Heinz ketchup a “liquid”????
I rest my case.
But I know what their motivation is: they get a percentage from the airlines for forcing passengers to check their bags. How do I know this? Because the TSA says so: “If in doubt, put your liquids in checked luggage.”
The airlines love checked luggage because they can only get so much extra income from things like “DIRECTV In Flight.” Yes – you read that right. Paid TV. And it’s so easy! Just insert a dollar a minute to watch all the latest films!!
Remember the olden days when airlines served food and showed movies to reduce panic in passengers confined in narrow metal tubes for hours while strapped awkwardly close to random strangers with dubious personal hygiene? Thankfully, they stopped meal service years ago (the caterer now prepares food for reunions) but didn’t think to subcontract the televisions until the government established a satellite system adequate for them to make millions.
That was when some random airline executive looked out his window and thought: “Hmmm. We charge for food. We charge for drinks. We charge for luggage. How else can we screw a captive audience? I know! Pay toilets!”
Meanwhile, a different airline executive said: “Wait a minute! Not everyone has to pee, but everyone gets bored! We can charge for movies and entertainment! It will be a gold mine!”
Which I didn’t know before I left, but I had a window seat so had something to watch for free.
At least for now.