In my last post, I mentioned the fact that there may be some complications to traveling from sunny Florida to mountainous western North Carolina in October. I spoke about the effect of going from 90-degree weather to 65- & 70-degree weather. But I failed to mention one of the biggest complications of all: flying.
I love to fly. There’s something exhilarating about blasting into the sky in a pressurized metal tube propelled by two to four gigantic, whining turbofans. Once in the air, there’s no feeling like cruising along at 400 mph over 30,000 feet above the ground. Even landing is fun: a long, slow descent interspersed with moments of weightlessness. I love it!
The problem will be in the terminal; more specifically, the terminal where my trip begins. I have to check in, check my bag, wait in line, and listen to seven hundred other people complain about how they didn’t pay for this, they paid to fly. But all of that is normal.
It’s the scanner I’m concerned about.
I know that there has been a veritable tsunami of protest over the invasion of privacy represented by the new technology in these scanners, but that’s not the main point of concern for me at the moment. Yes, I agree with those who oppose this invasion of personal space (there’s just no other term for it), but at the moment, my mind is preoccupied with other matters.
See, about four months ago, I fell over a seven-foot fence. When I fell, I dislocated my femur and broke my hip socket. The paramedics took me to the ER, the trauma team put my femur back into socket, and the next Monday, the doctor put a metal plate in my hip to hold the bone together while it healed. Four months later, the hip has healed well, I’m walking fine, and I’ve spent a week in Florida doing yard work. Now, at the airport, I’ll have to walk through that scanner…the metal detector.
“Please ensure you have removed all metal from your pockets,” the security worker will drone in a bored voice. “All coins, shoes, belts with metal buckles, and pacemakers should be removed until you have passed through the tunnel behind me.” The man in front of me drops a pocketful of change into the bowl provided and sails through the scanner without so much as a bleep.
The second I walk through, the scanner goes ballistic. I mean, it’s blaring like the Tin Man just walked through. People six lanes over are staring at The Man Who Tripped the Detector. I smile nervously at the guard and offer, “It’s my hip replacement.”
He gives me a bored, quit-trying-to-yank-my-chain look as he picks up the phone to call Homeland Security. I’m 23 years old…why should he believe me? There’s no reason for him to believe that a 23-year-old in perfect health (otherwise) is walking around with a metal implant in his hip.
Great. Just great.
I’m going to have to call my mother from Gitmo and let her know what happened. “Mom, I’m being questioned right now…my hip implant set off the metal detector at the airport, and they wouldn’t buy that I have a metal implant. I guess I’ll see you in four of five years, Mom…gotta go.”
Airports are great, and I love flying. I just don’t like metal detectors. Or full-body scanners — more on that later.