Remember when flying was no big deal? I remember one day, hopping an SAS flight to spend a fun weekend in Copenhagen. Flying was a regular aspect of my work and I adapted easily to it. It was so routine, I used to arrive at the airport about ten minutes before any flight departure and have the doors close on my behind as I headed for my seat. Not any more my friend. Flying is a lousy option today.
Driving is already getting worse. Shortly after 9/11, driving to visit relatives near Boston, I was talking to a woman at a place where we stopped for lunch in the Hamptons. She saw the Ontario plates and was curious about how long it took us to cross the border with the new restrictions. I told her honestly that the three-minute delay at the border was no problem. She was horrified and I think she hurried off to call her congressman and complain about Canadians getting across the border so easily. Today, you line up for an hour or more and then it still takes just a few minutes to convince the border person that you are an unlikely terrorist.
But flying today is a one-size-fits-all experience. You are a terrorist until proved innocent. So much for that vaunted American article of jurisprudence that says you are innocent until judged guilty. They are actually saying that you need to be at the airport four hours before your flight so that you can stand in line. What standing in line for four hours has to do with protecting America from terrorists, I have no idea.
The latest craze at airports is the idea of somebody seeing you naked. That sounds like the most revolting job since we gave up scrubbing out cesspools by hand. I could save all the airports a lot of money: make everybody fly naked. All you have to do is check your clothes and carry-ons with your luggage. I think, to be fair, the cabin crew should also be naked. After all, you need someplace to look.
And what the heck was President Obama doing on television the other day complaining about the lousy protection of America because somebody did something in his pants? I thought Obama was the boss. Why he cannot hire some more intelligent intelligence people is beyond me.
All I know is the days of the friendly skies are long gone. Paranoia is now the norm. If I need to go to the United States of America for any reason, I will walk across the border. It is a minimum delay system. On the other side, they have very nice buses if you are going some distance. Not since 1934 when Frank Capra directed Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in It happened one night, has anyone done so much for bus travel.
Next time someone wants to fly you away to some romantic locale in America, just tell them “No thanks, but have you considered a bus?” And do Hawaii by cruise ship, that can be really romantic.
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