Rip Van Winkle Meets the Frequent Flyer

by Tom Reed
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Story filed January 25, 2010

I call myself a travel writer and I love to travel, but I hate to fly. That’s why I’ve concentrated on destinations in Ohio and neighboring states, such as Travel Treasures Close to Home for this website. When I venture farther away, I drive if at all possible. I’d rather spend two days behind the wheel than two hours in the air.

I can put up with most of the hassles, but the new security procedures drive me up a wall. I wonder what it would be like to meet a modern day Rip Van Winkle, who decides to take an airline trip after awaking from a 20-year nap.

ME: We’d better get to the airport so we can be there two hours before our flight.

RIP: Why?

ME: Security.

RIP: So we have to go through a metal detector. How long does that take?

ME: It’s not that simple anymore. They’ve put in a lot of new restrictions since 9/11.

RIP: What’s 9/11?

ME: It stands for September 11, 2001, while you were in the middle of your sleep. Some Islamic terrorists simultaneously hijacked four planes, crashed two of them into the World Trade Center, another into the Pentagon. The fourth plane was intended for either the White House or Capitol, but it crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. About 3,000 people were killed.

RIP: You’re kidding!

ME: Wish I were. As a result of all this, security was beefed up, and a new federal agency, the Transportation Security Administration, was set up to enforce it. We were just getting adjusted to that, when a would-be terrorist tried to set off a bomb concealed in his shoe. So then the authorities made us take off our shoes before boarding. And since the bomb ingredients were in liquid form, they prohibited carrying the usual toilet articles – shampoo, toothpaste, and the like – in carry-on luggage except in containers of less than three ounces.

RIP: That’s pretty extreme.

ME: It gets worse. Just last Christmas, a terrorist tried to set off explosives concealed in his underwear on a flight into Detroit. Now, the TSA wants to subject us to full body scans, and they’re talking about still other restrictions.

RIP: The terrorists have sure made it tough for everyone, haven’t they? What are the terrorists trying to do?

ME: The dictionary defines terrorism as the use of violence or the threat of violence against civilians to advance political or religious goals. They’re waging a holy war against infidels, and would like to impose their brand of Islamic dictatorship over free people everywhere. They’ll stop at nothing and are quite willing to sacrifice their own lives to achieve their objectives.

RIP: You say the terrorists want us to lose our freedoms?

ME: That’s right. So we’ll just have to put up with all the new security restrictions. A recent poll showed that 78% of people approve of the body scanners, despite concerns about privacy.

RIP: So most people are willing to give up a little freedom for security.

ME: Sure. We’ve got to take some strong action, or else the bad guys will win.

RIP: Looks to me like they already have.

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