What I do for a $2.50 treat
|If you've flown recently, then you've seen the new Transportation Safety Administration security guards at airport security checks and you may have wondered how they're adjusting to their new role.
Over the last three days, I've found the best way to meet them and get their undivided personal attention, all the way down to the kind of shoe you wear, at the metal detectors, the departure gate, and even the airplane door: carry a Santa Claus PiÃ±ata.
Last week, in the midst of celebrating my cousin Norman's wedding in Chihuahua, Mexico, I spied a cool Xmas treat, a Mexican piÃ±atas in the shape of Santa Claus. How cool, festive, and oh so Mexico!
Now once I showed this threat to the relatives, all manner of discussions arose as to how I could get it back to DC with minimal hassle, and with a $2.50 purchase price, minimal cost. In the end I decided I would brave the stares of those not so cool, and just take it on the plane.
That was before I wandered up to the first security check in El Paso. Twenty minutes and a very through check later, including Santa going through the scanner three times, I was so late getting to the gate that I missed my flight.
Ready to go on a new flight the next day, the same guards broke into big smiles as I entered the security line again. A second round of detailed screening, shoe search and all, followed, but this time I made it to the gate before the flight left. Just in time to get a second search, at the gate, of Santa, my luggage, and my shoes.
Once the flight arrived in Houston, I scrambled to my next flight to DC, arriving this time to an overbooked flight and a $400 flight coupon if I'd take a flight the next day. Gladly, I got bumped and spent the evening with my cousin Paul, before heading back to the airport the next day.
This time, I switched two different metal detector queues before I found a security check that would allow me to bring aboard the Santa Claus PiÃ±ata to begin with. Then, we went through the whole luggage to shoe search again, before I was free to find my gate.
There, I was (miraculously) allowed on the plane without my fourth search, but did get a little chat with the pilot who was quite interested in my Mexico travels, at one point asking if my newly-grown beard had any religious significance. I assured him that I was a devout atheist, on my way back from a very Catholic wedding, and with a great desire to land safely in DC.
And so, three hours later we did, three days and three full luggage searches after I started, with what is now my very prized possession: a Santa Claus PiÃ±ata