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The Column

Can I Please Keep My Pants?
3/2/03

Another week, another flight that I scheduled much earlier than I remember scheduling it. I have been alive long enough that I should know I can't wake up before 6:00 AM. Especially when I don't go to sleep before 3:00.

I woke up to discover that a server blip (obviously, the technical term) caused my email program to send out three copies of every e-mail one of my staff members had sent the night before. I only slept for a few hours, and the mood of the day was quickly set by 141 new messages. Especially since the most common subject line was some variation on "get bent."

Since I've known since eighth grade that I, like most guys, am physically unable to get bent, I moved on with my morning without straining my neck. Already running late from stumbling around too tired to get properly dressed, I caught a cab with my gloved hand and headed towards the airport.

There are two bridges from Manhattan to LaGuardia Airport - one at 59th street and one at 125th street. My cabbie decided to take the 125th street route, which is odd since I live ACROSS THE STREET from the one on 59th. I may be old fashioned, but I think the shortest distance between two points is much shorter when you're already at the second point. However, my logic was asleep in the back of the cab with the rest of me, leaving no choice but to go where he wanted; it is very difficult for a cab to go one way and its passenger to go another. When I awoke to find us already on 92nd, I asked what he was doing. "Oh," the cabbie said, "would you like me to turn around and go back to 59th?" I told Magellan that I was late enough, and he should just keep going. But the ride to the airport, though longer than I wanted it to be, gave me just enough time to drift off and dream about getting bent.

It's hard to actually miss a flight, since we're advised to show up at the airport seven hours before our planes board. Here's the part of the column where I make fun of airport security. It's real original material, since no humor writer or comedian has previously thought to mock the dedicated workers that make up our nation's air security force. Actually, you know what is funny about airport security? Nothing, it just sucks.

I wear a belt with a metal buckle and boots with metal lace holders, so security for me was not an easy thing. I also bring my laptop with me, which is apparently an easier place to store explosives than, say, a suitcase, because my suitcase never gets opened but my laptop needs it's own private x-ray bucket. I once got yelled at for putting my jacket and my laptop together in the same bin. Isn't the theory of x-ray to see through things? If you can't use your x-ray to see that there's a laptop under my jacket, how are you going to use it to find a bomb in my shoe?

I'm writing this column while on a plane, and I just reread that sentence. I felt like I was going to be kicked off the flight for joking about carrying a bomb. Then I realized that it is very hard for an airline to get away with kicking someone off a flight, especially this long after takeoff. And if they kicked me off after we arrived, well, I could deal.

After placing my boots, belt, and my dignity on the conveyor belt, the metal detector finally stopped beeping. Isn't it prison that takes people's shoelaces and belts? What does that say about our homeland security? While the airport carpet did feel like home under my sock-clad feet, I would feel a lot more secure if my pants weren't falling down.

I finally got my boots and belt back, though my dignity was confiscated by a man who examined my laptop with chopsticks and a Stridex pad. As I was exiting the secure area, secured by a piece of fabric hung between two three-foot posts, one of the women began explaining to me why my boots would set off the metal detector every time.

"I travel for a living," I replied, "and this is only the second time it's happened."

She told me that things are a bit more exact in New York, and I'd know that if I lived here.

"I do," I said now finally awake enough to be clever. "On 125th street. Right by the 59th street bridge."

Sir, I believe that dignity belongs to me.

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