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Mr. Wrong

Fear of Flying

By Joe MacLeod | Posted 8/21/2002

Hey, everybody, I just flew in from New York and, boy, is my primitive midbrain fight-or-flight mechanism tired.

Man, I don't care how much shit we blow up in Iraq--we could blow up all the fucking shit in Iraq--The Enemy is still gonna strike again. And sure, it's probably not going to be with airplanes next time, but they've (and in this case "they" is The Enemy) Ruined It for Us All forever and ever, amen.

Taking a plane used to be like catching a fucking streetcar. Now it's fucking Defcon 4, condition . . . uh, hey, what are those "level of threat" indicator-colors anyway? I have them confused with the air-quality colors and the colors they use out in California when they want everybody on the freeway to narc on whoever just snatched a child. I mean, it's all good, the Amber Alert and stuff, I just can't remember what the colors are when there's one of those "significant levels of threat" emanating from (ultimately) The Enemy. I would like to suggest that the Most Serious indicator color be a rich, earthy shade of brown, as in what I created in my pants while I was in the goddamn airport. Standing in the line to check my bag. Standing in front of an unattended briefcase.

First of all, do they still call the place where one goes to catch an airplane a terminal? I don't need that, OK? Let's call it, like, the Happy Travel Pit or Iron Bird Stadium or the Winged Peopletube Launchatorium or something that doesn't make me think about Death while I'm standing in line thinking about Death.

I think about Death all the time. It's like a fucking hobby or something, see? Some people do the Jumble in the newspaper. Me, I'm thinking about Death. Most of the time. The rest of the time, I'm thinking about exactly how hard you would have to spin that big-ass wheel on television's The Price is Right (starring Bob "Hey, speaking of Death" Barker) to get it to land on the "$1.00" mark, which means you win 10 grand and advance to the Showcase Showdown. Ten thousand bucks just for spinning a stupid wheel. How do I get in on that action? Anyway, Jumble that, motherfucker. I don't want my relaxing pastime to be interrupted by forced Death-think because I gotta roll the--what is it, irony?--of going to the fucking airplane "terminal" around in my skull, OK?

I'm losing it. I guess most people call it the airport, and not the terminal, right? So it's just me, when I'm looking at a stupid-ass briefcase that does not appear to belong to anybody inside a big airport-place, and before I can, ah, "unattend" my own case and scuttle for a crack in the floor like a big-city cockroach, the lady working the counter grabs the thing and bolts down the big hallway of the place where all the people are walking around looking for an airplane to ride on. So I'm watching her and, for real, just kinda waiting for her to blow up.

But it doesn't happen. She catches some guy and hands him the briefcase, and he didn't, like, heave it through a window or anything. He just took it and walked on.

Meanwhile, I'm getting psyched for the Enhanced Security Measures. Bring 'em on, man. Yeah! Gimme the Enhanced Security. Bring it. Search me. Look wherever you want. Whaddya got, X-rays, ultrasound? Hit me. Break out the glove and the flashlight and strip-search my ass. I don't care. Enhance my Security, OK? Make my hour and a half prior to departure worthwhile, Security Enhancement-wise.

Nothing. They put my name on my luggage and tell me to step aside so they can Enhance my Security. Guy comes over with a black plastic stick with a white rag on the end of it and starts waving it over my bag. They checked my bag with a rag on a stick. They didn't even open it. Then he takes the rag off the stick and runs it through this little machine that spits out some numbers or something to confirm, I guess, that there's no explosives or anthrax in my bag. Great. They got my name on the bag and they didn't even ask me for ID yet.

I mean, come on, I wanna get on the plane as fast as all my fellow travelers, but what is this? I might not even be me, and you're checking my bag with a rag on a stick. Fuck this. I want a goddamn DNA chip or a bar code or the Mark Of the Beast stuck on me so, when I get in that line with a bag, the guy who belongs to the bag is me.

And now, there's another goddamn unattended bag right in front of me. Thanks, Keli. Keli McSomethingorother left her giant fucking suitcase in the middle of the line right in front of me so I would crap my pants.

I mean, I'm just trying to be a Good Citizen, looking for The Enemy, and now there's another gigantic Unexploded Suitcase in my path. So I start saying the name on the luggage tag real loud, and she's way down the line and her face is all, like, "Huh? Is there a problem with leaving my bag alone in the place where everybody stands around waiting to fly on an airplane?" Jesus Christ.

And they should allow smoking and drinking by everybody, everywhere, at all times in the terminal so that we can all relax. They have a fucking Starbucks, and I blew somewhere in the neighborhood of four bucks on an iced Venti Mocha-choca-la-la-ya-ya. If I coulda got a glass of vodka or some Maximus Super, maybe I wouldn't have been so alert for signs of The Enemy.

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