• Billie Proffitt

But Can Mike Judge Save Us?

Post-9/11 explains so many annoyances of my life – I mean it’s the most alluded to fear-mongering event in my generation, like Vietnam or the Kennedy Assassination are for my parents’, or the Great Wars for my grandparents… Defining moments in history that changed life as everyone knew it. However, I don’t think 9/11 deserves such power, especially not in comparison to the others I listed.


It was horrible, yes, but 3,500 people died – count the American, or even just plain dead in the other events and put that into perspective. Or as a matter of fact, just add up all the innocent people who have been murdered by mass-shootings, or if you dare add to that outrageous number other unmanaged executive fuck-up’s… There are far heavier collective events and government choices that define our generation.


This thought process reminds me of the Freakonomics study in Chapter 5 on parental protection – are the smarter parents those who allow their children to go play at the neighbors’ house whose family possesses a gun, or those with the swimming pool? The numbers are very different from our perceived fears, but that doesn’t change the reality that 1 in 4 child deaths occurs in a swimming pool, while only 1 in 250 are the result of a gun accident. Obviously the latter sounds scarier, but ask grieving parents and see if there’s a difference in the aftermath; a dead kid is a dead kid and however it can be avoided, most (at least any mentally sound) would.


On a recent trip through the TSA line, the ID checker (I’m assuming accidentally) kept my driver’s license. Amongst my getting pulled aside for a frisk and mess of their unpacking my (Stasi-style, pre-organized by TSA-PreCheck rules) bags, I didn’t notice any of my items they lost as I moved toward my gate.


Now, I travel a fair bit – I’ve been Global Entry and TSA PreCheck since they were introduced, I’ve been fingerprinted and cleared by the FBI, California state government and my own Los Angeles county Sheriff’s Department for my DeFacto Marriage application in the country of Australia and have similar clearance in The UK; I joined 23andMe so my DNA is publicly available and traceable… I am so recognizable and trackable and just plain cleared throughout the world, I couldn’t commit a crime and get away with it even if I wanted to! I mean, if I could give my blood to a central database of the world’s modes of transport – I would happily do so if it made my travel easier, safer and most importantly, quicker. I travel to spend time with the people I respect, find interesting and a lot of times love, so the more time I get of those goodnesses, and the less I waste on irritants, the better.


I have nothing to hide – can’t there be a special line for people like us?


The TSA idiocracy coupled with the power mongering that usually accompanies it, is nearly unfathomable to me, that is until each time I'm faced with it and there is again no denying its existence. On my return from Minneapolis-St. Paul – not only had I endured not being allowed into bars on a holiday weekend, because I had no proof of age – but I was then forced to join the regular line on my way back to LAX due to my being an “Unidentified Passenger.” Unidentified? Seriously? With all the money and time I’ve spent identifying myself over the years – not to mention my Australian Driver’s License on hand – and by fault of some TSA idiot with a power trip who kept my license I’m somehow still deemed unidentifiable? The lizard brain in me wanted to give them a reason to remember me… Instead I did as I was told, arriving 2 hours early for extra screening and shoe-removing and pat-downing…


“Is it alright to open this?” one of the agents asked me, as if I had a choice while she held one of my bags.


“Knock yourself out,” I told her.


“Is there anything toxic, dangerous or sharp enclosed?”


“No. But my dirty panties are right on top for you,” I smirked.


“Allllllright then,” her Minnesota drawl made itself clear along with her surprise.


I then “failed” this first-round pat-down and was taken into a private room for a more thorough one – “You’ve tested positive for a banned substance in your scan,” she explained, as if this reading were true.


“That’s impossible,” I informed her. “What is the substance?”


“We don’t know, but the machine has failed you.”


“Oh, yes, well the machine has failed me without explanation – because that makes perfect sense just like everything else in this sideshow,” my eyes got wide as I mocked her, twisting my jaw sideways and biting the inside of my cheek.


“It could be anything, really, maybe your self-tanner?”


“This isn’t self-tanner - I’m from LA. I expect a better excuse for a private frisk than that.”


In the end – to get my own license back from the morons who kept it – I had to pre-pay for a USPS Priority label, which was sent as an attachment in an email with the rest of the forms I had to fill out, so that they could then mail if back to my apartment, while I was already on numerous other planes for the following month… Back to creating more stories of the TSA morons.

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