Saturday, August 21, 2004

No-Fly Kennedy

Lady Malkin refers to Sen. Ted Kennedy's recent travel travails. So get out your violins, folks, and tune up the schmaltz. Another episode of "The Perils of Senator Ted" is about to begin.

Someone pointed out (I'm far too lazy this morning to go find the reference... chalk it up to Anonymous if you like) that anything that delays Ted Kennedy can only work to our collective good. I certainly see nothing to get excited about here.

A week ago I put my son on his return flight home after his summer visit. He lives with his Mom and step-Dad (a good joe, so no jokes from me) in the midwest and has become quite a seasoned traveller over the years. The rule about not allowing unticketed passengers past security has been relaxed this year, and I was able to get a special pass to accompany him to the gate.

At the security checkpoint my son and I placed our things on the conveyer and went through the detectors with no problem at all. My son, who dresses in the manner of your typical garage-band afficcionado, even captured the laughing attention of one of the screeners. The screener pointed him out to one of his colleagues and said that this was the very style he had just been talking about. My son graciously and humorously bantered with them, and we were on our way.

It was the young man immediately behind me that attracted my attention.

He, too, was dressed after the fashion of youth today. Piercings, hair style, tattoos and clothing all spoke of the typical MTV-generation "in your face" attitude. But as I was walking through the detectors and picking up my stuff on the other side, I noticed that this young man had, without being asked, taken off his studded belt and his biker boots, placed them on the conveyer, and waited politely on the other side to see if he would be wanded. The screeners simply smiled at him, indicated that he was free to continue, and the young man went his way.

There was no hint of acrimony in this young man's attitude with the screeners, with whom he was very respectful. Not a trace of belligerence. Just a stolid acceptance of the current reality. In my mind he passed with flying colors.

Of course, not knowing this young man's past, it's entirely possible that on some earlier flight he may well have been profiled and subjected to a more humiliating version of what I witnessed. Even if that were true, however, it certainly hadn't affected his ability to "work the system," and still have a polite - if somewhat inconvenient - travel experience.

I sincerely wonder how such an exalted being as one of the royal Kennedys would have handled this scenario. Aside from his inconvenience at the ticket counter, how would he have reacted had he been asked to remove his belt and shoes and submit to the wand? Call a press conference, no doubt, and deride the Homeland Security department for daring to treat him in this manner.

I wish I could give Senator Kennedy this young man's phone number. He might learn something about being a responsible citizen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let's hear it for the young people who can set a wonderful example, including my awesome nephew! That is just so cool!