Yesterday I was a Criminal


I got to the airport feeling just fine about the new rule of no water on board the plane, because I knew I could buy a liter of water and after the security desk and take that on board with me.  I got to the airport, checked in, took off my shoes bracelets and removed my computer from my bag at security.  After security, I was delighted to see the word “vegan” on a menu I passed at French Meadow Bakery.  I bought a cup of thick vegan black bean soup and a liter of water.  I arrived at my gate as folks were boarding and was stopped.  “Sorry, you cannot bring water on the plane.”  “I bought it after security,” I explained.   “New rules….No liquids.  And what is in the paper cup?”   I removed the lid from my black bean soup.  I was sure it was too thick to be considered a liquid.  “Sorry, no soups, they are liquid,” the airline woman whined.  “Look at this, it is thick as stew,” I whined back, “it will even hold my fork up, see.”


 “I am so sorry…but you can just quick down it here and drink as much water as you can and then board the flight. You have five minutes before the final boarding call.”

I went to one of the seats where a family of four was scarfing their pizza and chugging big cups of soda before boarding.  We looked like we were an eating disorders club.  “I am going to get indigestion”, the woman said to me.  “Hey, I think you can take your pizza on board, it is definitely not a liquid”, I said helpfully. 


“We want to have our coke with our pizza, though”, she mumbled back at me with a mouth full of pizza.


“They would bring you coke on the flight,” I mumbled back with a mouth full of black beans.


“Not enough though”, she said while nervously starring at the door of the boarding area.  One of her kids starting coughing and hacking after too much pizza and coke stuffed into his little mouth.  She finally grabbed what was left of everyones food and drinks and threw it all away.  I finished the final bits of my black bean soup and slyly stuffed my water bottle under my fleece jacket in my daypack.  I handed my boarding pass to the airline woman, hoping that my face did not look like any of the guilty emotion faces they have been showing in the newspaper.


 A few days ago, I looked at the line up of types of facial expressions they are looking for in the airport that alert them to suspicious activity.  They used a twenty something guy for the expression examples.  I looked at all 12 of the expressions and they all looked the same to me.  So there is something subtle that they can see but I cant that helps them pick out a criminal.  I am sure I was exhibiting some subtle guilty expression as I handed her the boarding pass.  I made it past her and then the two flight attendants greeting us as we entered the plane.  I got to my aisle seat and tucked my pack, holding my contraband water under the seat in front of me.  When they came by to offer drinks, I went for a cranberry juice so I would not seem suspicious by ordering nothing.  I ordered it like I always do: the whole can of juice with no cup or ice.  I feel environmentally better about it that way.  After they passed and were offering drinks a few rows away from me, I felt safe slipping my water bottle out of my pack and slid it next to my hip away from the aisle.  Luckily the woman next to me was sleeping.  I drank half the can of juice and then began to pour water from my water bottle into the can.  I felt like a chemist.  And I felt like a criminal.  “What if she wakes up and sees me doing this?” I thought, “She will think I am making a bomb, won’t she?”  I was not this paranoid when driving with marijuana in the glovebox in the seventies.  What has happened to me?  I used to be unafraid of authority.  It seems that the recent government mentality in the USA has me a little jumpy, watching my back.  I managed to drink the whole water bottle by transferring it to my cranberry juice can.  Each time I slid the bottle from my left hip to the top of the can and poured, I felt scared.  Anyone seeing me would be sure I was doing something suspicious.  I know while pouring the water I had at least three of the 12 guilty expressions on my face.  Luckily, the woman next to me kept sleeping.  I slid the empty water bottle into my daypack and prayed that I would not get stopped on my way past the flight attendants when leaving the plane.  “Could I get stopped and arrested for an empty water bottle?” I wondered, “And, how could they prove it had water in it only an hour earlier?”


These are strange times.  People guilty of real crimes are dining at the white house and people trying to help the planet are doing time in prison.  People are taking their shoes off at airport security and smuggling drinking water.  It is amazing what we get used to as normal.  As for me, I think I will practice the Heimlich maneuver for those desperate families shoving down food and drinks before flights. 


  Ahhhh, the glamour of travel these days.  Enough to make me want to stay put at home or travel only by foot or bicycle.  A friend of mine has a much more positive outlook.  He wanted to send a thank-you letter to the person who tried to smuggle the bomb in his shoes.  Yep, a thank-you letter, saying that he was grateful that the person didn’t try to smuggle it by putting it up his rectum.  At least now we only have to take off our shoes.