Tag: TSA

U Got the Look

Recently, I wrote about the low-level celebrity who confused me with the valet at a parking ramp.

While out having drinks, I retold the story to a couple of friends who, inexplicably, had not read it on the blog (yet they all claimed that they read my posts religiously… hmmm). In any case, we talked about whether the celebrity’s mistake rose to the level of racial profiling.

We never came to a definitive conclusion, because the topic soon drifted into a more concrete example of judging someone by the color of his skin. I’m talking about the TSA’s habit of stopping people like me for multiple wandings and the occasional frisking at airports. I’ve written before about this, but my friends all had theories on why the TSA is convinced that I’m the next Mohamed Atta.

“It’s because you look like somebody,” Friend One said. “There must be a guy on the terror watch list who looks exactly like you. It’s just bad luck.”

“No,” Friend Two said. “It’s because you look like everybody. You’re like the standard angry traveler with a bad attitude. They want to make an example out of you for going through the line with a scowl.”

“You’re both wrong,” Friend Three said. “It’s because you look like nobody. You’re still an exotic mix compared with most people who fly. So TSA thinks you could be a Muslim extremist, or a MS-13 gang member, or a yakuza for all they know. You could be something bad because nobody else in line resembles you.”

I thanked them for their insights. I finally had an answer on why I have to allow an extra fifteen minutes for airport security whenever I fly.

It’s because I look like somebody… or I look like everybody…  or I look like nobody.

So there you have it. That certainly clears things up.

But just as I achieved this level of enlightenment, Friend Four spoke up.

“It’s because you look brown,” she said. “That’s it.”

Damn, I had never even considered that.


The Government Has No Interest in Your Junk

I didn’t fly anywhere for Thanksgiving. This was obviously a good thing, as incessant news reports have informed me that TSA agents are groping Americans nonstop.

Really, it appears that this has become the civil-rights issue of our time. Citizens are up in arms that their privacy is being violated, so we have people opting out or showing up in bikinis or clamoring that TSA agents have literally squeezed the piss out of them.

And don’t get me started about the dreaded full-body scanners. We’ve heard that they cause cancer or melt your keys to your leg or instantly post images of your naked body to Facebook. At the very least, you never know if some Al-Qaeda operative is going to pick the moment you get scanned to detonate a terrorist photobomb.

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The New Neighborhood

So I’ve arrived at my new place in Los Angeles. As such, I hope to get back to regular blog updates soon, although for the time being, my top priority will be digging us out of the heap of boxes that overwhelm our home.

The whirlwind experience of finding an apartment featured myriad phone calls and frantic acceleration through the streets of LA, with the always pleasant task of flying across the country thrown in there for bonus stress points.

I had gone so long between airplane trips that I had forgotten how fun it is to be “randomly” selected for an extra pat-down by the TSA. Perhaps I should have explained that I’m Hispanic and not (as they clearly assumed) Middle Eastern. But this would have implied that I agree with right-wing zealots that there’s something inherently wrong about being Middle Eastern. And in any case, it wouldn’t have made a difference to those on perpetual watch for the next Mohamed Atta. I do think it was a bit excessive, however, to wand me while I was buckled in my seat on the airplane. But I was assured that this is standard procedure.

tsa-search

In any case, my wife and I are happy with our new home. Because we live in a neighborhood in which I spent little time during my first stint in LA, I did some research online to discover what I’m getting into. I found out that some famous past residents of my new hood include Anais Nin, Tom Waits, and Kiefer Sutherland – all of whom I’m sure had nicer digs than our humble abode.

But something disturbed me when I performed my due diligence. According to reputable online sources, the neighborhood in which I now live has a high percentage of Latinos. Even more alarming, it is also home to, as one source put it, “numerous creative types.”

I’m at a loss at how I got into this situation. I mean, surrounded by both Latinos and “creative types”… surely those two demographics will be the death of America.

How will I survive with my values intact?


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