All I wanted was a Pepsi!

Those wacky folks at the TSA have done it again! I gotta tell ya, they’re real jokers over there (you don’t even want to KNOW what their holiday party is like every year – it takes them all a week to recover, but they have stories for months afterward).

First, it was “Heightened Security” at the airports and a huge list of things that citizens could no longer bring on an airplane. Then there was an outcry of racial profiling, so we got “special screening”. Certain people got picked “at random” (BWAHA!) to get the full-on patdown as they went through security. We thought that was bad enough, but we went along with it. After all, these extra measures of “special screening” and “heightened security” would CERTAINLY have caught those pesky box-cutters that the 9/11 terrorists brought on their planes. Because the airlines had, until that point, clearly encouraged people to bring a box-cutter on their trip. This was a small inconvenience to pay for the price of being safer from terrorists.

Then, the TSA decided that it wasn’t quite enough silliness going on in the search lines, so when one guy got busted with a whole pile of suspicious wires coming out of his shoes, suddenly we all had to take off our shoes to go through security. Sure, security spotted the danger early, and took the raving lunatic with the bomb shoes away, but instead of saying, “Hey, good catch!!!” and giving them a raise or something to make the security people just a hair less surly, they decided that now everybody gets the joy of running their shoes through a metal detector. (Hint: regular Doc Marten boots – not the steel toe – don’t set of off the metal detector, so sometimes they’ll let you hang on to a shred of your dignity and actually keep your shoes on if you’re wearing those and your screener is enlightened.)

I had thought that perhaps making us all either sing “I”m A Little Teapot” (complete with interpretive movements) or perhaps coaching huge groups of us through “The Hokey-Pokey” might be next. After all, we now have to pad stocking-footed over a disgusting airport carpet but that’s not quite safe enough, so why not make us sing and dance? It’s well known that terrorists are not allowed to do silly dances, because every time they do, it reduces the number of virgins they get assigned in the afterlife, and increases their girth as well. Nothing like committing a suicide act for your cause and arriving in the afterlife only to find that you’ve been issued 15 fat virgins with flatulence and bacne. So, silly dances. Definitely, I thought that would be next.

Nope! Instead, we’re issued this press release about the new restrictions: liquids and gels. I wonder if it’s even real, honestly, because somehow I was under the impression that perhaps a government agency might want to run a spellcheck on their own press releases, but hey, I could be wrong. Everyone else is saying that it’s legitimate and not a hugely elaborate practical joke, so I guess I’m going to have to trust them and just hang my head in shame at the state of things.

Passengers are no longer allowed to bring any liquid or gel of any sort on an airplane. I find this interesting, because airline travel is notoriously dehydrating and the airlines themselves can be a bit spotty with the beverage service. No lotion to soothe one’s dried skin, no thirst-quenching beverage, no hair-gel for an impromptu trip to the lavatory so that one may give oneself a ridiculous hairdo to amuse one’s friends upon deplaning. I wonder if ostomies are included? Because that external bag may be empty when its wearer boards the flight, but it certainly won’t be shortly thereafter.

Of course, formula and expressed breast milk for infants will be allowed in small quantities (though no gel packs to keep such items cold and fresh on a long flight), which is great. The TSA plans on assuring the safety of such liquids by making the parents taste them during the screening process. Have we learned nothing from The Princess Bride??? (In that story, for those of you who aren’t familiar, the Man In Black faces the evil Vizzini in a battle of logic. The prize is Princess Buttercup. There are two cups of wine, and the Man In Black has convinced Vizzini that one of them has been poisoned with iocane powder. The trick is to figure out which cup to drink from. In the end, after Vizzini dies, Princess Buttercup mentions that the poisoned cup had been sitting in front of the Man In Black the whole time, to which he replies, “They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.”) These parent terrorists (from now on referred to as “parorrists”, a word of my own making) could easily train themselves to be immune to the ill effects of this mysterious liquid bomb-like substance.

I am of many minds regarding this whole thing. Some people would call that “schizophrenia”, others would simply call it “rational weighing of the facts and options”. Call it what you will. In the end, though, it comes down to this: We are no safer than we were on September 11, 2001. I’m sorry that I have to say this, but it’s true. Quite a bit more inconvenienced, much more well-trained to heed any random restriction the government decides to throw at us, and certainly possessed of a lovely new coat of wool that gets thicker and more lustrous every day, but no safer.

In fact, the impetus for this latest restriction was something that happened in another country, and the Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff even said, to the press, that “there is no indication of…plotting within the US.” And yet, not only are these restrictions being placed not only on flights between Britain and the US, but also on ALL domestic flights here in the Land Of The Free.

So perhaps, with just a small amount of time left in our current President’s reign, he’s giving the go-ahead on any and all measures that make living here more restrictive, so it’ll be easier when they impose that curfew, those television blackouts, this other embargo on free speech, a touch of pesky martial law. Those of you who think it couldn’t happen here are greatly mistaken, because people are not quite as cranky as they could be quite yet, but they’re getting there. Oh yes they are. We are moving forward toward a totalitarian state, closer and closer every day, and you would do well to remember that it wasn’t just the Jews who went to concentration camps – it was also Gypsies, homosexuals, and “sympathizers” to the cause of the persecuted. But I could just be paranoid.

Perhaps it’s the airlines. They’re pissed, after all, because after 9/11, people didn’t want to fly as much, and so they lost a pile of money. They decided to stop serving food on most domestic flights, and instead chose to make their passengers pay exhorbitant prices for a stale roll with some manner of “meat” and “cheese” or perhaps one of their delightful “snack boxes” (containing a wee packet of crackers, some manner of fruit, a bit of cheese, and an Andes Mint for dessert). Beverage service has always remained free for soft drinks, water, and juice, but now that they’ve got us where they want us (sitting in their seats feeling sweaty, parched, and violated), maybe they’ll start charging for beverages too. Because the less you let us bring ON the plane, the more we’re going to want FROM the plane, and this means that the airlines won’t be able to go around willy-nilly just flinging free beverages at any old passenger who whines that they’re thirsty, for heaven’s sake. It’ll cost them too much to do that. Bad enough that you generally can’t sweet-talk the sky waitress into giving you twelve whole ounces of beverage, and instead she will scowl as she scoops up four giant ice cubes and pours five drops of actual drink into the plastic cup that gets slammed down on your tray-table. But now? A plane full of thirsty people and grumpy children is going to make life hell for the flight attendants, and is going to make for a very empty drinks cart by halfway through the flight. (I hope that somebody’s getting a pay raise out of this, and I hope it’s the flight attendants, because life is about to become very very difficult for them.) So maybe the airline lobby has finally broken down the TSA and gotten them to impose this fabulous new restriction so that they can finally start charging for beverages.

What to do? How can we stop this rampant stepping-on of our liberties? Our rights to be adequately hydrated? Well, a little civil disobedience never hurt anyone. It starts at the passenger level. Everyone, this is a call to beverages! Arm yourselves with tasty drinks! Juices in wee bottles, Capri-Sun in those nifty pouches (which are SURE to set off a metal detector and send your screener into absolute FITS), sodas of every flavour, water! If enough of us bring our carry-ons and our persons loaded with every manner of beverages, the first ones to start freaking out are the screeners. Next will be whoever it is that has to deal with carting away all of the “contraband” that’s been taken from passengers. Of course, the passengers in line will begin to riot because it’s taking so long to ferret out every last little juicebox, flights will be missed, and the airline’s gate agents are going to be confused when half of their flight doesn’t show up because they’re busy being lectured on the dangers of Kool-Aid by a high-school dropout with a badge and a fist full of rubber gloves. Soon enough, people will stop flying and start taking trains and car trips and Greyhounds, because you’re still allowed to bring a bottle of friggin’ WATER on those, and then the airlines’ plan will be thwarted. Also, we will have shown the TSA that seriously, we’ve had it with this arbitrary imposition of rules.

I’m well aware that it will take THOUSANDS of willing participants to make this work, but if you just pass the link to this page along to everyone you know, we can get started today. Let’s not let the illusion of “safety” hamper us any further than we already have. What’s next? They have to drain us of all of our body fluids and stack our naked dessicated bodies like firewood in the plane, only to re-hydrate us in little booths once we reach our destination? At least then we won’t need our iPods or laptops, which are also being highly scrutinized and, in some cases, forced to be packed into one’s checked luggage. That’s right, folks. No more personalized music or podcasts to entertain you or your children on your flight.

Enough, I say. Enough. The only ways that I see to fix this at the moment is either mass civil disobedience or a simple boycott of the airlines. Start driving, bicycling, or taking the train. Amtrak needs your money anyhow.