Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Packing, uggggh

I love to travel, but I hate to pack. Especially when I'm flying somewhere. With all the new regulations, it is frustrating to try and figure out what you can take and what you can't.

Heck if you pack the wrong thing, without even knowing why you could end up in jail.

When I flew to California in January, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end when a TSA official stopped and grabbed my carry on for a further inspection. She "had seen something on the x-ray" that was troubling.

Uh-ho, I thought, what did I accidentally include in my luggage. Well, along with some new luggage I purchased with my going away gift certificate from some of my colleagues (thank you, very much) a new ditty-bag (shaving kit). I completely forgot that my new ditty-bag included a small corkscrew.

So the TSA official dug through my stuff until she found the zippered compartment that included that dangerous cork screw which she promptly confiscated.

Is this toothpaste too many ounces? Have I accidentally packed a machete? I just went through the TSA site and learned that I have to leave my cattle prod and spear gun in my checked luggage. Swords and sabers are also prohibited. Darn.

I wear loose clothing and slip on shoes and come prepared to be frustrated and angry, but unable to show it.

Not to mention that someone with my same name (very common) apparently has come to the attention of the Homeland Security folks, so each and every time I check in I have to do it at the counter and not the electronic check-in because my name is on the terrorist watch list even though I'm ten years older than the Jim who has come to the TSA's attention.

Then once on the plane I have to squeeze my 2X body into a M seat and my 6-2 height and long legs into a space made for a circus dwarf.

Part of my flight day ritual includes drinking almost nothing so that the need to get out of my seat during a five-hour flight is nil.

As a young boy, my mother used to dress my brother and I in sharp slacks, white shirts, bow ties and dress shoes for our one-hour flight to visit my father during Easter and summer visitations. Flying was an adventure, a big deal and something we always looked forward to.

Now I dress like I'm going to the beach to minimize the search issues.

So while I steel myself for the big trip, I have to get my traveling face on. Smile, darn it, smile. Don't argue, be agreeable, don't make sarcastic comments to the TSA officials.

Remember the old saying: "Getting there is half the fun."

Not so much anymore.


Anonymous said...

Hey Jim. Someone just mentioned your blog to me, and I've been reading quite a bit lately. I just wanted to say there is lots of good stuff ... I especially liked the Tim Russert commentary, not to mention your State News memories.

By the way, kudos on your recent Hall of Fame induction.

-- Tony Paul
(A Flint Journal intern from almost a decade ago and a fellow Michigan State and SNews alum)

Jim's brother said...

Jim fails to mention the time when mom was afraid of us flying and we had to take Greyhound for eight instead of one hour for the flight. We still got all dressed up but now we had a box lunch with chicken and hostess cup cakes and other treats.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain James. Flying is not easy. My name is also on watch lists, thanks father.

Jim of L-Town said...

Catching up today after our safe return:

Tony Paul: Great to have you visiting here. Hope all is well with you and keep reading.

Jim's Brother: Oh, yeah, I had forgotten that great trip. As I recall we weren't allowed to get off the bus even when it stopped for long periods along the way.
That was the most miserable trip of all. Didn't we go through Bakersfield and Fresno on that trip?
Thank goodness sanity took over and we didn't have to do that again.


Jim's brother said...

Yes because I-5 was not built yet and we had to go up 99 to just about Stockton and then turn left through the Altamount Pass (before the Stones and Hells Angels).