Monday, December 29, 2008

On Airport Security

Look at the candles from last night!
The glow from Chanukah candles in our dining room was incredible. And since all the menorahs were on the table behind me, I could feel my neck tanning. It must be what sunlight feels like to those people who still go . . . You know . . . Outside.
That particular menorah is about seven inches long and made of solid brass. The elevated candle on the end is a separate piece which just kind of settles in place alongside the other eight candles.
For anyone who hasn't ever tried to carry a segmented solid brass menorah through airport security along with some matches and candles, I'm sorry to report that you've missed out on a key holiday experience.
In taking a vaguely pistol-shaped piece of metal through airport security, one gets to meet new people. In this case, special agents.
It is also a time to re-connect with Judaism through the ritual of explaining it several times under the cheery glow of a spotlight in a darkened room.
Sharing various facts about our faith with the highly suspicious is sure to be a tradition which we will embrace every year.
On the way back, we put the menorah in our checked bags, but it is good that we had the experience of being jerked out of line and frisked by airport security while trying to flee South Carolina.
It is even better that I stashed the menorah in Shana's carry-on bag instead of my own, since I would not have been able to avoid saying things which would place me firmly on the "watch" list forever, if I ever managed to see the outside of my bamboo cage again.
And I was able to use the extra attention Shana was getting at security to make my own way through right behind her. For the first time I can remember, I made it through airport security without removing my pants at the request of someone else.
I'm pretty sure, given the number of agents diverted to decide whether or not to blow up Shana's camera bag, that I could have actually taken my pants off for recreational purposes and no one would have noticed.
We learned a little bit about how the Columbia airport works, too.
We flew Continental. Since that is a Houston company, we figured there would be no problem with them getting us there.
We dutifully stood in line to check our bags and waited to be called to the front.
"Get out your IDs", the lady said before walking off to attend to some important business.
We waited.
As we watched our departure time loom, we wondered where she had gone.
For literally half an hour we stood there, IDs in hand, gradually losing hope that she would return to help us.
Eventually, the guy from the American Airlines area came over and provided what help he could.
Leaving our luggage with him was a substantial leap of faith, but we did it.
We didn't see an employee of Continental again until we got on the plane itself.
But they serve Coke Zero in-flight now, so I guess that makes it all better.

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