Part of the Bay Area News Group

the big squeeze at the airport

By enelson
Monday, August 14th, 2006 at 6:43 pm in Security.

Staff photo by Nick Lammers


This is not a stock tip column, but you should know that I really wanted to buy Google when it was first offered. Disclaimer proffered, this week I’m recommending Johnson and Johnson.

TSA lady taking toiletries at OAK - Nick Lammers - STAFF.jpg

You should also know that last week, while this blog was getting stale, I was camping in Crater Lake National Park, with no cell signal, no radio and nary a newspaper in sight. It was glorious.

So I’m hoping to be forgiven for returning to the World of Man to find out that I had missed the big terror plot to blow up flights from Britain to the East Coast using some kind of liquid explosive carried onto an airplane.

The morning after getting my dog out of the kennel and unpacking the car, I took my 17-year-old son to the airport so he could visit a friend in Southern California.

An hour later, I’m in Safeway and he’s calling me on the mobile: “Um, Dad? There’s a sign here that says I can’t take any liquids or gels in my carry-on.”

“That’s unfortunate. Maybe you should call your mom.”

Now, I’m not always passing the buck, but my wife is a seasoned traveler. She’s flown to such places as Lebanon and Iran, where even a J-Lo CD might be considered contraband.

Mom advised compliance, so the shampoo, toothpaste and complexion treatment all went in the trash, and drugstore managers across the nation put out welcome mats.

Having lived in the Middle East, we aren’t strangers to tight security. In Israel, I’ve been felt up and interrogated about my religion, my heritage, distant in-law relations and my son’s girlfriends before being allowed to fly.

I’ve been asked, “Are you nervous? Why are you nervous?”

“My plane is about to leave without me. Wouldn’t that make you nervous?”

But I must say that surrendering one’s toothpaste is a new one. Even at the height of the Palestinian uprising in 2002, no Israeli airport security person ever took away my Aqua-Fresh, even if it had Arabic writing on it. That may have had something to do with why I hesitated to tell my son to chuck his toiletries.

But mother knows best, and being the object of more than her share of ennervating questions about her grandparents’ political leanings, I trusted her to make the right decision.

And from here on out, we’ll always fly with a small, collapsable spare bag to check all of our sloppy stuff or whatever else seems dangerous that week.

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