Jul 30, 2009

A Micro-study of human nature.

I’ve been traveling over the last few days. I believe in travel karma, both good and bad. This trip had mostly bad karma. I won’t go into all the details but I will say it involved hotel room downgrades, defective air conditioners & alarm clocks, lost reservations and missed flights. It all ended well though. I received a $300 travel voucher and an upgrade to first class for the cross-country return flight just for agreeing to be bumped to a flight that was 2 hours later. I have a trip next summer to Norway to pay for. That voucher will come in handy.

I will, however, tell you about the security line at LAX. I think this line was worthy of consideration by Mr. Guinness for inclusion in his Book of World Records. In any case, it was certainly the longest security line I have ever stood in. I was in that line for over an hour. It started in the building with the normal roped off, conga line and then moved across the hall, outside the building and down the entire length of the terminal.

It was like a line for a brand new roller coaster at an amusement park. Except that at the end of this line, instead of a fun filled thrill ride you got to walk through a metal detector and risk getting frisked by an underpaid, over worked TSA employee. Although, I guess if frisking is your cup of tea you could consider that a thrill.

So what was so note-worthy about standing in this line, you ask. Well, for the most part it was pretty mundane. However, one small section of this line was very interesting. It was the section where people walked out of the building to the sidewalk and for the first time realized the enormity of the line. It was so much fun to watch their reactions. The most common were:

Zombie like disbelief – These people had an initial subtle reaction, eyes widening, head shaking, etc., but then immediately accepted their fate and silently moved to the end of the line with a dazed look on their face.

Expletive blurting – The most commonly uttered phrase was “Oh my God!” but there were quite a few “Holy Shit”s and “Jesus H. Christ”s thrown in there too. Does the H stand for Holy? Does anybody know. I’ve always assumed it does but who knows, maybe Jesus’ middle name is Henry.

Chuckling accepters – These were the fatalistic, Murphy’s law people. Just life handing you another crappy situation so you may as well just accept it. (That’s me)

Commiseraters – These people wanted to bond with the others in line. “Wow, I don’t believe this”. “How long did it take you to get this far?”

And then there was the lady with the Luis Vuitton bag who walked up to us and asked “Are all of you people in the line for security?” No lady, we’re in line for the Starbucks, got to have my mocha latte, don’t you know. She defies classification.

I could have stood in that spot a while longer, I was having so much fun people watching. Of course it was easy to be smug after already having stood in line for 40 minutes. “Yeah, end of the line buddy. Keep moving.”


  1. Sounds like misery to me. I probably would have been one of those people that said WTF. Well at least the trip from hell turned up a flight voucher.
    Glad you are home safe and sound. I missed you around here.

  2. I think we've all been in that line; admittedly never for airport security though. Frankly I think I touch on all the mentioned reactions, as though progressing through the stages of grief. But I usually settle on the Murphy's Law response -- "well there you go; yup, it figures".

  3. If I had my camera in hand it wouldn't bother me. Those facial expressions you speak of make great scrapbooking fodder.

  4. Rae - It wasn't so bad really. I've had worse travel experiences. Glad to be back.

    Miss G - resigned acceptance of one's fate makes things go a lot easier.

    Grish - It would make for a great scrapbook page, complete with captions like....."WTF"

  5. I miss the good old days,when you could just pack up a change of underwear,some toiletries,a couple pounds of C-4 plastic explosives,and stroll right onto your flight without all the pomp and circumstance we have to endure nowadays.

  6. Sling - What I miss most is seeing the family and loved ones at the gate waiting for their, mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife..... to get off the plane. It just made you happy. Now everybody is sitting in their cars in "Cell Phone Lots" waiting for the signal to drive by the baggage claim and do the pick up. Bah!

  7. That kind of people watching is amusing to me, as well. I try really really hard not to comment on the length of a line that I'm in, because a) I know it's most likely not the fault of the poor ticket agent/security guard/cashier at the beginning of the line, and b) I would rather hear what comments other people utter. :)