Every year Lily’s company nominates about 100 employees or so and sends them to a company paid vacation/off site meeting. These nominations are to reward them for outstanding achievements. The employees get to bring their significant others and this year Lily was selected to go.
This is the second time Lily and I went and we had a great time. The company sent us to Cabo San Lucas and Lily signed us up for the spa.
I’m not a sophisticated person. The barber is about as pampered as it gets for me (and it shows). So with some prodding from one of my friends we signed up for a pedicure, a manicure, and a massage.
It was a weird experience for me. Overall it was fine but I’m ticklish and kept laughing during the pedicure. During the massage I was asked if the pressure was too much. I said “No, it’s a little light” and she really worked on me. It did not quite hurt exactly but I now know what it’s like to go through a meat grinder.
Going to Mexico was a breeze. We had no hassle from the TSA, the transfer at Dallas was uneventful, and customs in Cabo was a snap. The most telling part of going was that we could not take water through the screening gate but we could buy bottles of water after the TSA and carry those potentially lethal water devices onto the plane.
(The TSA at the metal detector said we were allowed to buy water from the stands near the boarding gate, yes we took water on that way, and yes TSA war on liquids is too stupid for words).
Coming back was crowded and a little chaotic. We went through US customs and immigration screening at Dallas and once we were screened we got our luggage and went to the TSA guard like everyone else to go to our connecting flight. They do what you expect; they ask some questions and “randomly” select passengers for additional screening with x-ray of the luggage and some more questioning. We thought they picked us because we had a company provided lunch box with chicken inside.
Random, oh yeah, right. When we got into the waiting area and were lined up behind some people I told Lily “It wasn’t the lunch box”. They picked out every Asian passenger in the crowd. The only non-Asians were people like me who were traveling with an Asian (Lily is Chinese). Not a small amount of people either. That delayed our getting to our connecting flight in another terminal and we ended up racing to the plane.
At the gate I mentioned that we were delayed because of the TSA. The attendant said they screen randomly to which I replied “Yeah they randomly got every Asian”.
I did not complain to the TSA. They are not really law enforcement professionals like police officers, they don’t necessarily have an education past high school, and operate underneath secret and unpublished laws. Per other accounts they don’t have to explain to you why they abuse their authority or even really justify that abuse.
At Dallas they were not rude or unprofessional to us at all and aside from the obvious discrimination and delay I have no complaint. But had I made an issue of their “random” selections they could have gone nuts and I would have no recourse. See Homeland Stupidity for some better examples of problems with DHS. See Dr. Pournelle’s and others experience for more references.
Oh well. The vacation was great fun and like thousands of other travelers I just put up with this and hope that things get better.