Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I Get Even With The TSA

You are all gonna think I made this up, but it actually happened. I know, because I had been plotting it for about 2 years, then finally mustered up the courage to follow through.

I fly about 100,000 miles a year, and spend a lot of time in airports, and airport lines.

We’ve all been there hundreds of times: lining up for countless security checks at airports, waiting to go on our flight somewhere.

We go through the routine of showing our Passport and Boarding Pass 11 times before we even get to out departure gate.  It’s getting ridiculous.

And, of course, annoying.

At LAX (Los Angeles Airport) you first show your Passport and Boarding pass at a security checkpoint at the bottom of an escalator, which leads you to the X-Ray machines lineup at the top.

So, after you pass this first checkpoint, when you get to the top of the escalator you have to show it again.  And the entire time, the TSA agent at the top is watching you go UP the escalator.

I mean, what the fuck can happen to you and your ID between the bottom of an escalator and the top?? I actually had this exchange with a TSA agent at the top of the escalator.

            TSA:    Passport and boarding pass please….

            ME:     I just showed it down there.  (pointing to the bottom of the escalator) And you watched me come all the way up the escalator.  Did you notice anything unusual?

            TSA:    No, but its policy…

            ME:     You really think I could organize a terror cell and full plan of attack in                                    the 14 seconds it took me to come up this escalator???

            TSA:    Sir!  If you are going to be difficult I am going to refuse you security

This, of course, is the ultimate threat by the $10/hour TSA dopes who didn’t make it past 11th grade.  They are power-drunk with knowing they have been granted some authority to fuck up our travel plans.

So as travelers, we have to put up with this. We are forced to accept the wisdom and authority of some who has trouble stringing 3 cohesive sentences together.

But recently, I got even. Big time.

Usually, I travel with a zip-up hoodie.  It’s a good travel jacket: very comfortable. Also, planes tend to be cold, so if it gets warm it is easy to take off.  Plus the hoodie makes a nice pillow to sleep on - especially if I’m hungover.

Every time I go through security, they always ask me to take off the hoodie.  I used to argue that it has a plastic zipper, and there was no need to take it off since I was going through a body scanner, but I just gave up. You can’t argue effectively with these guys.

So, a few months ago when I was flying through LAX again, BEFORE I got to the airport I decide to put on the hoodie, but this time with no shirt underneath.

I zipped it right up to the top and then got to the airport and ready to go through security.  Sure enough, one of the TSA storm troopers stops me before I put my stuff on the X-ray machine.

            TSA#1:            Sir, you have to remove your jacket

            Me:                  Why?

            TSA#1:            All jackets, belts and shoes have to be removed.

            Me:                  You sure I have to take this off?

            TSA #1:           For sure.  Please take it off.

Now here is where the timing was simply fucking beautiful.  I wait a few seconds, while the TSA agent goes over to another line and starts in with the commands to the crowd behind me about “no gels, containers over 5 ounces, etc”

Then I take off the hoodie and put it on the conveyor belt to go through X-Ray.

So there I am, standing bare chested, getting ready to walk through the full size X-Ray machine when another TSA agent comes barreling over in a complete fucking panic.

            TSA #2:           SIR!  SIR! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!

            Me:                  (pointing to the TSA agent who told me to take off the hoodie)    
                                    She told me I had to take my jacket off.

            TSA #2:           (looking at TSA #1)  She did?

Now, because of the commotion, about 5 other agents come racing over.

            ME:                 (again pointing to TSA #1) That agent there told me I had to                  
                                    take off my hoodie.  Didn’t you??

            TSA#1:           Well, yes I did, but I didn’t know you weren’t wearing anything
                                    underneath it.

            ME:                Well, you should have asked. You just said I had to take it off.
                                    I didn’t want to but you made me.

Now, I am putting the hoodie back on, to practically a standing ovation from the people behind me in the line.  One guy wants to take a picture.  Almost everyone is smiling and cracking up amid all the confusion - except the foreigners who seem worried by it all......

Then, the TSA agents all huddle around wondering what to do, even though I have put the jacket back on. I'm sure it is all on camera in Washington somewhere.

            TSA#2:            Sir, we have to write this up as a report.

            ME:                  Go to it.  I did exactly what I was told to do. Now, for the record,  I’m going to   write up a report of my own and send it to the Department of Homeland Security, to the attention of the Director.  (shaking my head) Making folks take their clothes off like that….

I get through the body scan machine and start picking my stuff off the conveyor belt after X-Ray.

The TSA people are still meeting about what just happened, and there is confusion everywhere.  The supervisor walks over. I jump in front of her before taking off for my departure gate.

            ME:                 You know, not one person offered me an apology after making me take off my jacket and having to stand there half naked.

            TSA:                Sir, sorry for the misunderstanding there…

            ME:                 There was no misunderstanding; I did exactly what was asked of me…    

            TSA:                Well in the future tell them ahead of time you don’t have
                                     anything on underneath the jacket.

            ME:                 Why do I have to do that?

            TSA:                So we can avoid this situation again…..

I left the area and looked around behind me.  There were going to be meetings and reports for the next 2 weeks over this incident. I mean it was a fucking work of art!

Hopefully, in the future they adopt a “Phil” rule whereby they have to ask people if they have anything on underneath the jacket they are wearing before asking them to remove it.

But, in the meantime, I take daily satisfaction knowing I took the TSA to task, even if only for one day.


Christmas Shopping in Kelowna

It was great to be back in Kelowna, B.C. for Christmas Holidays.  Also thought it would be nice to do a little Christmas shopping while there; you know, pump a little money into the local economy. Thought the local business would be prepared to grab my hard earned loot.

HUGE mistake.

Most annoying shopping experience of all time.

Stores in Kelowna are exactly like window shopping; there is one of everything on display, but nothing is ever in stock to actually buy.

I decide to buy “Windows 2” tablets for all the kids for Xmas so I first visit “The Future Shop”; a sort of Canadian “Best Buy” wannabe.

After form-tackling a “service” representative named Garth (you know electronic- store-sales-guy:  bad breath, perv moustache starter kit, bad B.O. and messy, unwashed hair)

ME:                 Hey Garth – you lucked out today – I need 4 Surface 2 tablets…..

Garth:             Hmmmm…..not sure if we have any.

ME:                 You don’t have any?  At Christmas?  The most important shopping                                       time of the year??  Are you sure?  

Garth (enthusiastically):   Well, if it’s in stock, we got it!

ME:                 Wow, thanks for the incredible insight, Garth. And let me guess, if it’s NOT in stock you don’t have it.

Garth looks a little puzzled my remark, but he ambles off to check.  After 10 minutes he returns:

Garth:             Bad News. We’re all out of Surface 2 tablets.

ME:                 This is hard to believe.  One week before Christmas and you don’t                               
                         have any product to sell??

Garth:             Yeah, I guess we shoulda ordered more here….

ME:                 Ok.  Lets shift gears. Fuck the tablets,  Have you got any “GoPro”                                   cameras.

Garth screws up his face like he is about to be tortured, which of course, he is.

Garth:             No, we sold outta those a few days ago.

ME:                 No wonder you guys are always in receivership, (which is true) you                            never have anything to sell.

Garth:             You want me to get the manager?

ME:                 Whats he gonna do?  Give me some bullshit story about how this store                       never gets what they want from the main warehouse, etc etc etc.  No, I'm outta here.

Garth:             Merry Christmas!!

ME:                No, it isn't thanks to you and your shitty store

So, off I go to the only other big box electronics store in Kelowna called “Best Buy Canada” 

Now, in between stores I get a text from my friend in Belize who asks me to buy him a MacBook Pro., which he cannot get there.  More shit to buy now.

This is in addition to the 4 surface tablets I want to buy.

So I venture over to Best Buy Canada, and the same routine of having to get a sales person happens again.  But alas, I get a real geek; one that seems to revel in the fact he works at an electronics store.

ME:                 Hi Wendell, have lots to buy here today, so let’s get to it.  I need 4                                surface 2 tablets, and Macbook Pro 512GB – with the 17” screen. 

Not bad – about a $4500 order.

Wendell:         Hmmmm…….Ahhhhh……Hmmmmmm……Ummmmm
                        Lemme check on the tablets.  Think we might be all out.

 ME:               The week before Christmass?? All out?  Surely you jest                                                 Wendell.

        Wendell:         Gimme a second.  And let me check stock for that                                                                        Macbook Pro.

Wendell leaves and comes back.  He is walking with his head down so I know it’s bad news.

            Wendell:                     Bad news on both fronts, sir.  Nothing in stock on any of                                                            those items.

            ME:  (incredulous)    How, possibly can a store this size not have any of these                                                             items.  And even more so the week before Christmas.  Worse, why do you even have them on display?  You can’t buy them so I insist you take them away.  It’s misleading the buying public. We foolishly think you guys actually have a business here….

            Wendell:                     You want me to get the manager?

            ME:                             Please.

Several minutes later the manager shows up, and even though Wendell has given him the heads up, I further explain it is misleading to put items out for sale when in fact you don’t have them.

            Manager:        Well, we can order the items for people.

            ME:                 For when, Easter delivery?

            Manager:        I understand you’re upset.

            ME:                 No, I’m not upset.  I am disgusted that a major electronics store has next to nothing in stock, yet continues to advertise it is in business.

            Manager:        Well, we are in business.

            ME:                 Really?  What is your business?

            Manager:        Selling electronics.

            ME:                 And how are you doing so far with me today in performing                                           your business plan?

            Manager:        Not very well.

            ME:                 Uh-huh.  Gimme the name and email of the guy who is the                                            district manager, or is in charge of ordering for this store.  He needs an email slapping.

The manager writes this down and I leave the store, with one last place to try and spend my hard earned money:  a drugstore chain, believe it or not, called London Drugs.

They actually have a decent selection of electronics, and are great at service, but they are small.

I get there, and there is nothing.  I mean, absolutely nothing in stock.   I go easy on the guy because their chief business is selling pharmacy shit and small appliances.

So, my apologies to all my relatives who were supposed to get the Surface 2 tablet or GoPro camera:  you will have to make do with gift cards this year. 

But make a point of going down to these retailers and explaining how you got jobbed out of a tablet because they can’t count right.

Absolutely unbelievable.