Tilted Windmills: The joys of airport security
by Mike McLellan / For the Tracy Press
Oct 25, 2012 | 6491 views | 1 1 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We would like to thank Orville and Wilbur Wright for the joys of flying, but note that the shoe bomber spoiled it a little.

Still, airport security can be fun, if you make it so.

This is the second in a series about air travel in 2012, as my wife and I have just returned from several long flights. We have experienced the Transportation Security Administration firsthand. The pun is intended.

At San Francisco International Airport, I chose to admit my issues and not cover them. You see, I wear a leg brace and have for years. Some people just think I shun shorts for other reasons like the way my legs look. This is also true.

At SFO I just announced to the officer that, while I had put all of my earthly belongings in the gray tray, I was still wearing metal on my leg.

“Male officer!” she shouted.

While this disappointed me a little, the young man only took about five minutes to touch most of my person.

I say “only” five minutes because it can be longer, depending on how late we are to catch a plane. The later we are, the longer it takes.

Next, it was at Los Angeles. The security process for Alitalia took longer, as they swabbed my brace for explosives and made me wait for the test results.

In full sight of all — and with my pant leg rolled up to my thigh — the man in blue took what looked like a baby-wipe and rubbed my brace. He then put the wipe into a machine. After a minute or so, he read a screen and allowed me to pull down my pant leg and put on the rest of my clothes.

I then tried not to forget my shoes, belt, sport coat, pen, coins and carry-on bag that have been X-rayed.

Getting on a flight in Verona, Italy, was easier, as we did not have to take off our shoes. Still, I got gently caressed as I stood with arms outstretched like a whooping crane.

I realize that I could remove the brace briefly for the security procedure, but I believe that it will help things to tell folks straight out, submit and move on. Besides, when it is separated from my leg and resting in the tub, it looks far more mysterious even ominous.

I was not ready for Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris. Nothing happened.

They escorted us from one plane and delivered us to the Air France terminal without stopping. Security evidently counted my experience in Verona as enough, and we never officially went through another screening. I considered such a change second-rate, as I was prepared for a Parisian pat-down.

My spouse, who breezes through and has to wait for me to be wanded, patted and interviewed, seems to think this is amusing. She does, however, have the responsibility to watch over my clothes and bags while I am being searched.

Now, this inconvenience is not great and it does make me feel a little more secure on the planes. If they are careful with me, I figure they will be careful about others.

However, a couple of years ago, security at London’s Heathrow International missed the Swiss army knife I inadvertently left in my carry-on. It bothered me after I found out.

Just think — someone with an exploding leg brace could have been on that flight.

• Mike McLellan can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4231 or emailing him at DrMikeM@sbcglobal.net.
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October 31, 2012
I just want to go on the record and say reading the Tracy Press over the past few months has become such a lame experience. Between Tilted Wind (mills) and banal pieces by mom types like Yolanda.....nothing left to inspire a debate. Just as well the ownership is changing hands.

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