SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Secure in our discomfort
Scripps Howard News Service


August 17, 2006
Thursday PM

WASHINGTON -- Yeah, yeah, I know. It's serious business and it's all being done for our own safety, but, admit it:

Haven't you ever wondered if at least some of the airport security measures aren't part of a secret government program to see how much humiliation the flying public can take before it rebels? How long before some fed up patriot stands up and yells, "I want to be somebody! I want to wear shoes! I want to smell good!"

First, the Transportation Security Administration, following the lead of the Brits, banned all liquids and gels from our carry-on baggage.

Toothpaste, shampoo, shaving cream, bath soap, mouthwash - TSA is contradicting everything your mother drilled into you about personal hygiene. Wearing clean underwear - "because you never know what might happen" - is, I believe, still allowed under TSA rules.

Baby formula is allowed, but the parents can be required to taste it first, to which the baby is probably thinking, "Serves them right."

Suntan lotion is prohibited, skin cancer apparently not being one of the hazards TSA guards against.

You cannot board with those ubiquitous airport beverages - Starbucks coffee and bottled waters - leaving you to subsist on whatever skimpy provisions the airline has elected to stock. One will never sneer again at a meal consisting of bloody Mary mix, stale pretzels and peppermints.

Duty-free is momentarily prohibited on board, but given the economic power of that particular business, that's not likely to last. As has been pointed out, duty-free doesn't mean profit-free.

TSA warns on its Web site, "Beverages purchased in the sterile area must be consumed before boarding because they will not be permitted onboard the aircraft." Maybe I'm reading too much between the lines here, but this seems to be my government urging me to work up a quick, pre-boarding buzz at the airport sports bar - "Make that a double for a dollar more?" If so, "Go, government!"

And now you're required to remove your shoes. This will only encourage the unfortunate trend of wearing flip-flops and sandals. Some people have the feet for it; some don't. Most don't. Like shorts and bared midriffs, this conveys more information about our fellow travelers than we need to know in the confined space of a screening line.

Says TSA, "Our highly trained transportation security officers can see if a shoe has been tampered with when they view it on the x-ray equipment."

A few scenarios: "Hey, Al. Come on over here. Get a load of the lifts in these elevator shoes." Or, "You're overdue for new soles and heels on these babies. I'll let it go this time, but you've got to get to the cobbler stat."

So we, the heirs to Bunker Hill and Yorktown, docilely shuffle along, shoeless, beltless, unshaven, odiferous, lank greasy hair, furry teeth, muttering under our breath - because the rules don't allow us to show attitude- our new battle cry, "Like, whatever."

That old store sign has now been amended to read, "No shirt, no shoes, no service - but you can proceed directly to the departure gate."


Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)
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Ketchikan, Alaska