Come Fly, Let's Fly Away

Friday, July 13, 2012

I am going back to my SoCal roots. Literally. I'm on a plane as I write this. Because we live in New England, apparently the only way we can get anywhere without a zillion connections and endless layovers is to take early morning flights. We've tried finding more reasonable departure times, but alas. Perhaps when we become rich and famous we can share a private jet with JLo. Needless to say our 3:30 am wake up call was a rude awakening.

We all know flying is a huge headache anymore. Lines, delays, and extra fees are all too commonplace. Security is, well, let's talk about that. I am going to start by saying that I am all for protecting our airways. I want us to be safe and I think we should do what it takes to ensure that we are. However, it seems that we went astray at some point. In my humble opinion. Take it for what it's worth.

A couple of months ago I flew from Boston to St. Louis for my great grandma's 90th birthday and had my first foray into the X-ray machine. Prior to that I had vowed to never, ever step foot in that machine, even if it resulted in a pat down. But when they ushered me over, I did it. Damn! How did I cave so easily? I know exactly why I did it: a) refusing could cause a scene, b) I didn't know what they'd do if I refused, and c) I honestly wasn't sure I could refuse. So despite my strong opposing convictions, I stepped into the box and let them X-ray me.

As a student of the sciences, Biology in particular, I am well aware that X-rays are mutagenic. They change our DNA and cause a host of problems in our bodies. That's why we wear the lead vest at the dentist's office and only receive X-rays if a serious injury is suspected. The government claims that it is safe and has low levels of radiation. In my mind radiation is radiation and all unnecessary exposure should be avoided. Period. And what about people like my husband who travel frequently? This morning they were putting 75% of passengers through it. I was only spared because my son was with me. My husband wasn't so lucky. When I saw him emerge I had a rather visceral reaction. I felt like going all Charlie Sheen. Only I was certainly not "winning!" anything. What is it about this machine that makes me feel so irrational?

I think it comes down to the lack of control over my own body. I have no say in whether or not I want my physical self to be exposed. In more ways than one. They claim to "cover" passengers' privates with a black box. Yeah, okay. The images are only shown in a private room and are not retained after a TSA worker looks at them. Uh, sure. I'm not a conspiracy theorist. Really. But I am a skeptic. I simply don't believe that it's safe, private, or that the images go away. If my doctor tried to X-ray me every time I went in for a visit, I'd stop seeing him. He must incompetent if he does not possess any other skills which he can employ in my treatment! Yet here I am being exposed to radiation, as are the people around me, and it's my golden ticket to getting on an overcrowded and expensive steel bird.

Perhaps I'd feel better about this if I understood the logic. What exactly are they looking for? A plastic gun in my, um, black box? Have they actually discovered flight jeopardizing materials doing this that could not have been found using other screening methods? I have more questions than answers, honestly. We protect our pilots by locking them in the cockpit. We undergo thorough security screenings. I have to wonder if this X-ray contraption is simply a way to lull passengers into complacency while promoting a false sense of security. Where will it end? How do we keep America and its citizens safe without selling our souls and our health? More questions, I know. I'll admit that I don't have the answers. But I also don't think they do, either. Rant over.

Aren't we excited for sunny San Diego?! I know I am. I have a stellar family I love dearly. I bet I'm going to tap into a plethora of excellent blogging material while I'm there. This is a much needed break from real life and I can't wait to enjoy it. As soon as I regain the feeling in my rump.


  1. I asked a TSA agent once if, as a frequent flyer, going through those new X-ray machines twice a week was bad for you. He said they only have as much radiation as 20 minutes on an airplane. I said WHAT- you get radiation from riding in an airplane! Something else to worry about. Keeps my mind off the bills.

  2. Oy. Have you seen the pics of what your body looks like in the images? Horrifying. If that's not motivation to lose a few, I don't know what is.


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