The Logical Philosopher

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Curse of Being Polite

I flew down to Seattle last weekend with some friends and, being the polite blogger I am, I let my friends go through first when we all reached the boarding gate. Big mistake.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think being polite would require me to unbuckle my belt for a man wearing a fake badge and, even worse, with rubber gloves sticking out of his pocket ready for action.
“Have your boarding passes ready please,” the customs agent announced to us all as we filed through into the metal detector line. He droned on, waving everyone in front of me into the screening machine. “Thank you, pass through. Thank you, pass through. Thank you, pass through”

“Hold up sir.” I heard directed towards me as I tried to step past. “Random screening check, step this way please.” He pointed towards an area beside an empty table, calling out to his workmates “Doing a random! Doing a random!”, like it was some sort of reality show prank. Damn, I’ve been Random’d, I thought. It’s like being Punk’d, only they have the legal authority to use rubber gloves.

He then asked a most disturbing question: “Would you like this done in a private room, or is this public space ok?”

“I guess this is ok.” I replied, hoping that if I chose public, the rubber gloves would stay safely stowed away. After a few attempts of incorrectly following his next set of instructions I finally seemed to “assume the correct screening position”, my arms out to the side, and legs slightly apart. He turned on is portable metal detector and proceeded to run his wand over me, finally stopping as it continued to beep at my belt buckle.

“Open your belt please,” he ordered. I got the impression this was going to be the highlight of his day so I went with it. Looking around I saw my friends had all stopped to watch, as if viewing some horrific traffic accident unfolding in slow motion. I now know it is possible to have ones mouth agape and snicker at the same time.

After his wand cleanly passed over me I took it as a sign to buckle back up. Unfortunatly I was wrong - “No sir, I asked you to open your belt buckle. Wide open please.” He continued wanding my pelvic area for contraband and then made the motion for me to spin around. Arms still outstretched I pivoted, like a ballet dancer, only with hiker boots and an unbuckled belt. At this point my friends snickers became auitory. What a start to the trip. I was determined to be graceful to the end, so I reached down to do my belt back up, not so much for my fashion sense of an open belt buckle, but more so to prevent my shorts dropping right then and there.

“No sir, wait until I tell you to buckle it back up.” I heard from behind. Now stop and re-read that line. I decided right then and there that I didn’t ever want to be in a position to hear that line again. I started to sweat, and my friends started to add facial expressions to their noises.

Apparently growing bored of telling me what I could do with my belt, he moved into my carry-on luggage. Unzipping my bag he started pulling out my clothes, inspecting them as he went. At this point it was at least 5 or 6 minutes into my search and all I could think of was next time I’m going to pack dirty underwear at the top, regardless of my trip starting or finishing.

A thin smile appeared on his face as he rummaged around in the bottom of my bag. I started to think maybe he had watched the French Connection recently and saw me as his next big bust? Sensing he was getting warm, he triumphantly pulled out my tube of Crest toothpaste and, more strangely, like he was caressing a beautiful vase, gently held it up to the light for a closer inspection. Except in the actual toothpaste aisle at the local pharmacy I’ve never seen anyone look at a toothpaste tube with such reverence. Time seemed to slow as he stood in awe, gazing at my toothpaste tube.

Finally, after he let a sign of satisfaction quietly escape from his lips, he placed the toothpaste back into my bag, stuffed my now unfolded clothes back on top and zipped my bag up. “Thank you sir. Going to the US means tighter security, I hope you understand.”

“Yeah, no problem,” I muttered as I grabbed the rest of my items from the inspection table, turning towards my friends.

“Oh, and you can do your belt up now.” I hear him say from behind. Damn. Twice in one day. I headed over to my group of friends, who still stood watching the event come to a close. I’m sure they all secretly hoped I would get busted for something, just so they could say they were there when it happened.

“Whew,” I breathed, “I don’t know about you, but I’ve used up my quota of unbuckling my pants for the weekend.”

One of them shook his head slowly, looked me up and down and said with a slow, contemplative tone, “You know LP, all these years I’ve known you and I figured you for a Colgate man. You disappoint.”

I guess you never really know somebody until you see them get pulled for a random search at the airport.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Symbols of our age

Like a tide slowly rising to wash away the sand castles, there are distinct signs that time marches on. Even as a kid at heart, things happen in our surroundings that force us to reevaluate where we should be doing our castle building.

Time and tide wait for no man
Getting older is a true journey, so they say, and like any journey on a forest path there exists markers to remind you of the distance traveled. Last week one such marker hit me square in the face - thwap - unexpected and out of the blue my age became apparent.

For your reading enjoyment some markers in the past I have reluctantly embraced or avoided include:

Marker: Owning a toolbelt.
Status: Passed. Yes, during house renovations one year I needed one desperately but to me they symbolized my dad working on the house with me as a young boy. I just didn't want to admit that I had gotten to that age but for fathers day one year my kids got me a new I wear it while the kids play with their plastic tools in the sawdust around me.

Marker: Racing Ironman in the 30-35 age group.
Status: I'm in but competition is fierce and I will never podium again. Although racing as in the clydesdale category does cut the competition down some; at least that's my excuse to drink excess amounts of coke slurpees while training. Got to keep the weight up to podium!

Marker: Owning a Minivan
Status: Not Reached! I will resist to the last mile - towing the kids in a red wagon if I need to. And no, I don't count my Subaru Outback as a Minivan.

Marker: Yelling at the partying kids on the block to turn the music down.
Status: Not yet...and only because my neighbor does it before I do (he's much older).

And what new Marker did I reach this month? Here's how the conversation went as I was interviewing for a daycare job for our youngest:

"So you're in 2nd year university?" I asked, after looking at her resume. I don't remember female students looking that young when I was in 2nd year, but then I was in engineering and there were no female students, so I really didn't have a reference point.

"Yep, I'm in education and doing daycare for the summer our of our apartment."

"How much room is there in your apartment?" I inquired, looking around and seeing technical books strewn about on top of the kids toys.

"Well, my boyfriend is an engineering student taking summer classes so he's always away, meaning we have the whole place for the kids."

"Ahhhhh, I remember doing that - I did engineering and graduated in 1997."

"Wow...1997. I was only in grade..." she started before I cut her off holding up my hand in mid sentence.

"I don't want to know what grade you were in...I think you just made me feel old." I said, feeling the stinging thwap of an invisible age marker on my head. Check another milestone off my list of getting older - I was just dated with the mortal phrase "I was only in grade X when you did that."

But whatever happens I still won't give into the Minivan.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Starbucks goes liberal

I stood waiting to share my vice - blended Happy Planet, extra ice. Mmmm. If I'm going to pay $4 for a drink at Starbucks, I may as well make it as close to a coke slurpee as possible.

She was in front of me long before I noticed her. Dressed oddly, but not enough to draw attention from those too self absorbed to notice. With that preamble of course you could say I noticed. After all, I'm not so self absorbed to think "It's all about me"... But upon reflection I realize I may not have noticed her attire had she not also been talking to herself.

Her turn came to order and she loudly announced "I would like a vanilla caramel latte, but be liberal with the caramel", her voice stressing the word "liberal". There was a slight pause as her lips opened as if to say something so the Barista patiently waited for her next line. "But not liberal the government sense of the word!" she finished with, up a notch on the volume scale.

Wow, not only a woman who knows what she wants, but also can mix political science into a trip to Starbucks. I sat and sipped my drink in awe.

Upon getting her latte she headed directly to the coffee condiment counter and procedded to add a liberal amount of honey to her drink, and - if you can picture it - not in the government sense of the word.

Awe was quickly replaced with ponderment as what the mixture of vanilla, caramel and honey actually taste like. More to the point I wondered what political party it would be most closely associated with. I immediatly switched to how I could commercialize this.

The new election drink is born: "The Conservatively Liberal Latte" 2 parts caramel, 2 parts honey, 1 part vanilla latte.

All I'm going to say is that if this takes off I better get credit... For those of you who think it won't, go look at the picture again.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Scam Warning

Generally, I hate the warnings that get sent around, but I have to admit that this one is important. Please protect everyone you know by sending this posting to your entire email or blogging list.

If a man comes to your door and says he is conducting a survey and asks you to show him your bum, do NOT show him your bum.

This is a scam - he only wants to see your bum.

I wish I'd got this yesterday. I feel so stupid and cheap.

Friday, July 07, 2006

No posts this week

"Hey LP, how come you haven't posted this week! I was waiting on one." I was asked.

My reply: It's just too nice out to sit in by the computer. I've also noticed a significant slowdown in other blog postings, so it's not just me. That, and I had to travel a little bit this week, which of course gave me more tourist stories to write about.

So until next week,

Logical Philosopher.