Monday, August 28, 2006

Why we'd all be safer in airplanes if they made dynamite sticks small enough to stick up your nose.

I just got back from a vacation in Europe. I ate like a pig.

More about that in a future post. For now, I want to talk about airline security. I mean, I’m as much in favor of pat-downs, taking off your shoes and posing for nude x-rays as the next guy. It’s the truly weird stuff that has me wondering.

I flew home to Newark Airport via Frankfurt. The security folks in Frankfurt Airport were super touchy that day. Some security guard straight out of Central Casting for Ilse Koch, Sexy Blonde Sadist of the SS, opened my carryon bag, felt up my dirty underwear, and then triumphantly lifted out a plastic Ziploc bag in which I packed my prescription meds. Jawhol!

I mean, I’m an old fart. Most of my meds are for blood pressure and an enlarged prostate. But nevermind that. She made an even more triumphant find – a tiny spray bottle of Nasacort, an Rx nasal steroid my doctor gave me to control congestion from allergies.

"Zis cannot go with you," she said.

I explained that it was prescription medicine. I showed her the prescription pasted on the side of the bottle. (The bottle contains maybe an ounce of fluid, if that.)

"Zen squirt zis in your nose," she demanded.

I told her I'm only supposed to use it once a day and didn't relish the idea of overdosing.

"You vill squirt zis in your nose," she ordered.

Well whaddya do in a high tension situation when you’re trying to get on an airplane and some busty blonde security sadist is telling you to stick it up your nose or go to Buchenwald?

You stick it up your nose, that’s what you do.

Following the instructions on the side of the prescription bottle, I started to shake well. Suddenly, she jumped back, as if the balding, overweight, klutzy 66 year old guy with a suitcase full of dirty underwear and old fart's meds was a suicide bomber and the tiny shaking bottle of Nasacort was going to explode in my hand and take out the Frankfurt airport.

Fortunately, before she blew any whistles I squirted the stuff up one nostril. She looked relieved. I started to squirt the other nostril.

"No no, you vill only squirt one nostril," she ordered. So now we've got German airport security guards revising doctors’ instructions for taking prescription medications.

Well anyway, one nostril she wanted, one nostril she got. The rest of the flight was uneventful. When I arrived at Newark Airport nobody had any interest in checking my bags, or my customs declaration. The story ought to end there, but like all weird stories, it doesn’t.

A couple of hours later, the news on the radio was all about a guy they caught at Newark who had just arrived in the U.S. with a stick of dynamite in his carryon bag. (True story.) His excuse was that he “found it” on a construction site and decided to pack it as a souvenir.

I want to know why they don’t trust a guy to fly with a teensy bottle of nasal spray unless he squirts it up his nose – but walking on board an airplane with a stick of dynamite in your bag is perfectly cool.

I guess the theory is, if you can't stick it up your nose, it can't bring down a plane. Which is why we’d all be safer if there were a law limiting the size of dynamite sticks to what could comfortably fit in the average man’s left nostril.

1 comment:

Buce said...

Back in the 70s, I had to fly sometimes alone and sometimes with small kids. Amazing what a couple of noisy snivelling brats does to get you thorugh the security line quickly.