December 09, 2009
THE MURDER OF MY NEW COMPUTER
This happened a while ago but every time I re-read this column I become infuriated . . .
It was the nicest, neatest, new Apple laptop computer. I'd had it for just six days.
So I was treating my new computer with great care. I cradled it in my arms as though it were a six-day-old infant. Although I must admit I have never actually held an infant. Because I'm a klutz, I drop things — so much so that I have been forbidden by my family from holding my children and grandchildren until they reach puberty.
I was at security at the San Diego airport. I took off my shoes and put them into a tray. My jacket went into another tray. My beautiful new computer into a third tray, and I resisted the urge to wave goodbye to it as it rolled into the security machine.
I went through security and waited on the other side of the machine and quickly put my computer into my carry-on bag and zipped it up. Suddenly there was a pleasant security man saying, "Is this yours? I have to look at it." With that he grabbed my bags and moved me to a table off to the side.
I hobbled after him, trying to put one of my shoes on as I hopped along behind him.
He unzipped my carry-on bag, ran his hand over my computer, and looked under and opened a small leather bag that I carry. He went through it and put it back. Then he went into my other bag and kept searching for something.
"Excuse me, what did she say she saw?" I asked, motioning to the operator of the X-ray machine.
"She says there's some green mass of liquid in your bags."
"Oh crap," I thought, "now he's going to find out I'm part of a ring that is smuggling Liquid Prell from San Diego to New York." Great maturity kept me from saying this out loud. Finally, after going through every item in my bag, the security officer was satisfied that I was not carrying any mysterious green liquid. He carefully zipped up my bag and said, "You're free to go."
I grabbed my bag in one hand and swung my carry-on onto my shoulder when I heard this sickening crash. Horrible. There, smashing against the concrete floor, was my new computer.
"Oh, I didn't zip that one up," said the security guard. "Let me help you with that."
"My new computer!" I moaned. The screen was a cobweb of cracks. It was dented and it was so out of line it couldn't be closed.
I looked at the security person and thought about all the airlines and the hell that traveling has turned into.
On one side we have the airlines, which have dropped all pretense of giving their passengers even the most rudimentary service. On the other side we have passengers, who feel resentment at being charged a fortune to be lied to and abused. Mark my words: Airline passenger rage will be the catch phrase of this holiday season. We're on a collision course.
The prospect of being forced to sit for countless hours bent like a pretzel in a tiny seat with absolutely no leg room so that a fat and greedy airline CEO can meet his profit forecast is the stuff that revolutions are made of.
Millions of Americans will be flying off on vacations in the next few months. It's time they realized we're at war with the airlines. The minute you set foot in an airport you must assume you have been captured and are a prisoner of war. You owe your captors nothing more than your name, rank, serial number and driver's license. You must expect your captors to lie to you at every turn. When they "innocently" announce that your flight is delayed for 10 minutes, don't believe it. Take your cell phone and book yourself on another airline. Are they claiming they are serving a "delicious" meal on your flight? Save your life. Do what I do – carry a spare pastrami sandwich in your carry-on bag at all times.
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