Banks County Opinions...

FEBRUARY 12, 2003


Column

By: Shar Porier
The Banks County News
February 12, 2003

‘Check the hat’
I thought I had it figured out. I called the airline before my flight to see what new changes had been made as far as carry-on items and security checks. It had been five months since my last flight and I wanted to know what to expect.
The attendant was very patient and pleasant and told me what not to carry on board. The list was no different than the last time. He said Hartsfield still has curbside check-in, which was a welcome relief. I remembered the lines at the ticket counter post 9/11.
After I arrived at the airport and checked my bags, I wove my way through the lines that would take me to the security check. Since it was late in the evening, there were only several hundred passengers rather than the several thousands one sees in the daytime. In no time, I was “up.” I laid my handbag and my hat in the bins to go through the X-ray machine. And was just ready to dump my coat in another when a security guard said, “You need to run your coat through the X-ray and take your hat with you through the scanner.”
So, I grab my hat and as the bins run through the X-rays, I walked through the scanner. As I came out, I hear this woman’s voice yelling, “Check the hat! Check the hat!” I look around to see whom she was talking about. A few rows down was this guy resembling the Uni-bomber after being holed up in a cave for three months.
“That must be who she’s yelling about,” I thought.
Then, she’s right there in my face, yelling, “Check the hat!” Somebody check the hat!”
It took a second to sink in. “She’s talking about my hat?”
Now, it’s just an old felt hat with a satin band. And I found it rather amusing that she was making such a fuss over it.
“You were supposed to wear your hat through the scanner. You didn’t do that,” she scolds.
“I’ll be happy to go back through with the hat on, ma’am,” I said. “I didn’t realize it made a difference. I’ll just go back through.”
“No,” she said abruptly, “you’ll go over there. And give me that hat.”
She sends me through this corridor of clear plastic walls. There’s a gate at the end.
“Now I know how a cow feels before the slaughter,” I mused. I watch as the “Uni-bomber” walks away free and clear. They didn’t even make him take off his shoes.
I reach the security guard at the end and I said with a smile, “I’m being punished for not wearing my hat through the scanner.”
He laughed.
She was still running around with my hat telling someone to check it out.
The guard asked me if my stuff had cleared the X-ray machine. I looked back, saw my bins and coat on the end of the conveyor belt. “Yes,” I said. “They’re right there.”
She came over and told me to follow her to this check station where they check you with a hand-held wand.
“Sit there and take off your boots,” she commands.
“Ok,” I said and took off my boots.
“Stand with your feet on the footprints on the floor and face that way,” she orders.
Now, I’m getting perturbed. Her tone was abrasive and was totally uncalled for as I was complying willingly and without resistance, or complaint.
I take the position; arms outstretched while she scans me. The thing beeps at my watch and the various tiny metal objects that make up ladies undergarments. She touches each one — the strap adjustments, the clasp, the underwires? “Wait-a-minute!”
I start feeling really uncomfortable. This woman is touching my body parts. Then she lifts my sweater and pulls at the waist of my pants.
“Hey, now,” I said.
People were stopped staring at us. They were watching her as she touched me. I noticed out of the corner of my eye another security guard sitting at a small machine. He was calling someone on a radio; he had my hat in his hands. He walked over and handed her my hat.
“Did you check it,” she asked coldly.
“Yes, ma’am,” said the guard and winked at me. “It’s clean,” he said.
Then she sits me down and scans up and down my outstretched legs. For some reason, the thing went off as she passed it over my knee. She feels up my leg.
“You got a rod or a pin in your knee,” she asked.
“No,” I reply.
She scans again; it goes off again.
“Look there is nothing in my knee to make it do that,” I said firmly.
“You’ll have to come with me,” she said. “You’ll have to take off…”
Before she even finished her sentence, I cut her off. “No, I don’t have to come with you. I am not going any where and I’m not dropping my drawers for you or anybody.”
I had reached my limit. I wasn’t going anywhere with her. And I said it loud enough for the people watching to hear.
A man walking through the row next to mine said, “Get ‘em. Don’t let her treat you like that.”
Another security guard came up, obviously a superior, and said, “That’s enough. Ma’am, you can go on your way.”
He handed me my hat and gave me my coat and handbag.
“All this over a hat,” I asked. My question received no response. The woman was being led away by her superior. She didn’t look too happy. Neither did he.
As I walked by the guard who had been on the radio, I smiled and said, “Thank you. You saved me.”
He put his finger up to his mouth and said slyly, “Shhh...”
So, let me offer a bit of advice to lady travelers: In the wintertime, wear a fleece jogging suit and flip-flops and forget the bra. (Carry sneakers to put on after the check-in.) In the summertime, wear a muumuu and flip-flops and forget the bra. Maybe you won’t have the embarrassing “close” encounter I did.
Shar Porier is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.

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Editorial

By: Phillip Sartain
The Banks County News
February 12, 2003

The scene of the accident
As a general rule, I try to be careful about what I watch on television. Most of the stuff on TV is pretty bad. But by far the worst programs are television shows about television. If your remote control gets stuck on one of those, you run the risk of serious humiliation. I’ve just now reached the point where I can talk about it publicly.
It was THE football weekend of the year, and I had carefully arranged for my wife to take our daughters shopping somewhere. I gave them permission to spend up to $50,000 on the credit card, thinking that that would keep them occupied for at least an hour or two.
In the meantime, I invited my brothers over to watch the big game on the big screen television. After the girls left, I headed to the den to watch a little of the pregame show while waiting on the guys to come over.
As usual, the remote control was missing and I didn’t have time to play an entire round of “Where’s The Remote Thingie?” so I just changed the channels manually. While I was flipping channels, I made the mistake of landing on the all time worst TV About TV shows known to mankind —”Glittery Fluff,” or GF for short.
It normally comes on right after the evening news, but this was a special two-hour program running opposite the game. As usual, it was hosted by Spiff and Shine, and as usual, their hair and their teeth were big and perfect in a scary sort of mannequin way.
The initial segment of the show was about some other TV show called, “Americans Desperately Seeking Attention.”
That’s where a bunch of people audition to be picked as the most desperate and an even more desperate group of people vote for who is most desperate. And what made it scary was that it really wasn’t about the show itself, it was about the “making” of the show —there was no telling where it would all end.
But anyway, I was about to change the channel when the phone rang and I ran into the kitchen to answer it.
While I was finishing up the phone call, Larry and Perry showed up and I motioned them to the den without thinking. Right after I hung up, I joined them.
When I got there, they were frozen in place and turned to me with a severe look on their faces. “We need to talk,” my older brother said sternly.
“Oh, you mean those fruity cheese snacks. That was Lydia’s idea. Don’t worry, I got a jumbo bag of beer nuts in the ....”
But before I could finish, they both turned and cried out like they were in physical pain, “You’re watching Glittery Fluff?”
I immediately went on the defensive, “No, I wasn’t. Only women and losers watch that program. I only watch programs about sports and war.”
“Well, it’s on,” they both pointed out accusingly.
“But I wasn’t watching it. I wasn’t even in the room.” Just as I said it, a really trashy segment began and we all three fell under a spell that I call the “Hollywood Accident Scene,” where you’re not able to resist looking at a GF segment no matter how horrible it is. In fact, the more horrible the further you get sucked in.
The next thing I knew, we were all sitting down staring intently at the screen and munching on fruity cheese doodads. I have no idea how long we were stuck in the trance.
And that probably explains why no one heard the front door open and close. The next thing I knew, my wife was standing in the room, smiling to herself.
“I really think it’s neat of you guys to get together to watch your favorite show. I can’t wait to tell Stephanie and Judy.”
My brothers still aren’t speaking to me. Not only that, but I’m out $50,000 to boot. By the way, did anybody get the score of the game?
Phillip Sartain is an attorney in Gainesville.


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