I've just finished over 24 hours of travel and I had a few thoughts during the trip. I've tried to think of how to arrange them into a coherent, paragraph-based entry but I failed. So instead I'm going with ye olde bullete liste.
- While approaching LAX on our flight from Auckland it occurred to me how frightening that moment must be for so many people every day. I'm not even talking about people who have a fear of flying. As the laws of the United States stand anyone entering the nation who is not a citizen can be taken into custody, put into a secret prison, labeled an "enemy combatant," tortured, and never heard from again. These things can happen without even so much as a phone call or a lawyer, let alone a trial. I cannot even begin to imagine how terrifying this makes it for anyone to travel to/through the US.
- Airport security is a joke and I'm really sick of the illusion of security. The first example of this from our trip was my customs experience. My trip through customs took exactly thee seconds. The man at the desk took my passport and my declaration statement, read neither, scanned my passport through the little slidey machine, stamped the form and handed it all back to me. He didn't even compare my face to that on the passport. It was ridiculous. I guess he just assumed that, being a white male with a collared shirt on I couldn't be dangerous.
- The next example was in the security at LAX. I don't know how many of you have been to LAX but here's me telling you not to go there ever... ever. In order to move from one terminal to the next you have to exit "security", go outside, and reenter "security" again. In order to get through security you have to stand in one of three different lines per terminal. One of the lines was so long it stretched out into a parking lot. During your time in line there are about 15 security officers who are visibly doing nothing. I'm not trying to take away from the difficult job that TSA employees have but it is really frustrating when you are waiting for 30 minutes in line and you can see people, who's job it is to make this process work, just standing around. As long as all were going for it the illusion of security perhaps they could be given some clipboards so at least they appear busy. The woman who is trying to make things work faster by giving information has to do it by cupping her hands over her mouth and shouting it as loud as she can because she doesn't have a loudspeaker. The other thing I like is how you have to show your boarding pass three times to three people while you stand in the same line. That seems like a good idea. In the end what it comes to is that there seems to be this false equivalency made between hassle and security. The idea that travel is a pain in the ass is supposed to make us all feel like we are safe.