Meet The Douche Nozzle: McCarran Airport Security Supervisor
In an evolving series, this space is occasionally devoted to highlighting the douchenozzles among us. Prior "winners" include Roger Clemens and Freddie Thompson.
It's worth stating the obvious: Douche Nozzles aren't restricted to celebrities. Indeed, they lurk among us each and every day. Especially when you are traveling.
I flew through McCarran Airport in Las Vegas yesterday, and I’m trying as hard as I can to not still be furious about what went down.
On the way out to Vegas, the woman at the security checkpoint in Oakland informed me that she was going to let me bring my shaving cream, shampoo and whatnot aboard even though I had stupidly forgotten to put them in a clear plastic bag. (She did not call me stupid – I just was, because I’d forgotten about this patently ridiculous rule.) She did toss an almost empty bottle of haircare product and my toothpaste because they were too large, even if I’d had a plastic bag. Again, this was my bad, not hers.
So, after spending two days in Las Vegas, looking around for a plastic bag to put my toiletries into, I stumbled across a nice lady working at The Luxor who handed me one that she simply had at the cash register. I put two travel size shampoo bottles, a travel toothpaste which I’d bought at The Luxor, and some hair gel – which was about $20 worth. (I know, it’s pathetic, but I use the stuff.)
If you’ve ever traveled on Southwest through McCarran Airport, you know that the security line on the best of days takes about twenty minutes to get through, and today was not the best of days. It was probably a good half-hour for me to get to the security line. When I did, I took the plastic bag out so they could see everything, and waited patiently on the other side.
Then I heard the words I didn’t expect to hear – BAG CHECK.
An armed officer came over to tell me that the toiletries I’d packed were all of acceptable size…but the problem was the size of the bag. I’d put them in a gallon bag, whereas regulations demand no larger than a quart size bag.
I honestly thought he was joking.
Nope. He stated that this has been the regulation, otherwise people would bring on too many toiletries. (Which of course would be an unbridled disaster.) I patiently explained that, even if this was cause for concern, I had far less than even a quart sized bag worth of toiletries…they just happened to be in a gallon sized bag. At this point, frankly, they didn’t even need to be IN a bag – security knew they were all fine items, and I could easily take them out of the bag and put them back into my kit.
Nope. I’d violated regulations. So, I had three choices – one, go back to a shop and buy a quart sized bag, then go through security again. Even though I was exceptionally early for my flight, this was completely unpalatable, at least partially because I expected a brand new reason why the evil shampoo could not board the plane.
The second choice was to check my luggage, which of course is equally distasteful since the whole purpose of carry on luggage is to avoid such nonsense.
And of course, the third option was to toss the items away.
In as patient a voice as possible, I told the supervisor – who had been called over, and who quietly gave me a bit of fear that I’d soon be arrested for violating the Patriot Act or something – that even he had to understand how silly this was, that I knew it wasn’t HIS policy, but it was just stupid, just a waste of time and money and resources.
“Oh, no, sir…you are wrong,” he told me. “They tried to blow up an American Airlines plane in Europe.”
Sure, I know this. But not with Bumble & Bumble shampoo. Seriously, how dumb is this? It’s not like I had anything dangerous, but frankly, Joe Bob Security didn’t know that – he just could see the packaging it was in. And apparently, a large amount of air around the items – because of my dangerously large Ziploc bag – was aiding and abetting the terrorists.
There’s no other way to put this – if you think that security guards at the airport are not complete and utter morons, then I’m sorry to inform you that YOU are a complete an utter moron. If it weren’t for the nice lady in Oakland who made an exception, I’d be okay with that blanket statement…but sadly, I can’t be. Because she understood how dumb the rule was, and the supervisor – the SUPERVISOR! – did not. It made perfect sense to him, because he hadn’t ever thought about it beyond the hyperbole and platitudes that he’d been given on why this was.
It’s easy – if airports really believed in this quart-size Ziploc bag rule, they’d have them available for free at the security lines. It’s no picnic to unpack and repack your bag, and toiletries in particular are things most people don’t want on display. I’d wager that an airport the size of McCarran would spend no more than a few hundred dollars a day – if that, when you think that a given bag is probably $0.10 – in this give-away. But they won’t do that, because it’s not really about safety. It’s about control. It’s about fear. I’m supposed to believe that this rule is making me safer, when all it’s doing is making me not want to fly. You know when the terrorists win? When we completely overreact and change the way we live in stupid, bureaucratic and moronic ways.
There’s simply no reason that I have to go and re-purchase some of those items, besides the fact that the Southwest security supervisor is dumber than a bag of wet hair.