Mirrored with permission from Outpost Nine and Azrael

Homeward Bound

I went home for the Spring Vacation in March. This was a necessary thing - anyone living in Japan for any length of time needs to get out of the country every now and then. It's like hitting a giant reset button. Novocaine for the soul, as it were.

But you know what, I forgot just how frustrating our airport security has become.

I'm shocked there's still tourism in America. All the security checks and endless forms and fingerprinting and what not...and God help you if you don't speak English. I didn't even want to go through that shit, and this is my home. You know what, here's a giant FUCK YOU to all the terrorists of the world who've made this shit so frustrating. FUCK YOU with a rusted coathanger. I'd kick every last one of you in the balls if I could. Why can't you terrorize something else, like the muni bus or golf carts or something? And a very special FUCK YOU to the asshole who tried to blow up a plane with a shoe bomb, so now in addition to taking off my coat, watch, belt, pants, and spleen at security, now I gotta take off my shoes too. It's ridiculous.

I flew from Kansai International Airport in Osaka to Los Angeles, then to San Francisco. After arriving in Los Angeles after going though the lengthy process in customs, I had to get my checked in baggage, then take it BACK to security to have it checked in again. Then I had to go through security yet again. It's crazy. I remember when I took my vacation in Singapore, the security process went a little something like...

Agent: So, are you a terrorist?
Me: Hmm...probably not. I wasn't one yesterday.
Agent: Okay, cool. You can pass.

If I was ever on a plane that got hijacked, I think more than anything I'd be amazed that the terroist managed to sneak something deadlier than a spork through security (have they started stopping people for sporks yet? You know it's coming). They stop you for anything too. I once got stopped because I had one of those Tot 50 Mini Staplers in my backpack. ...Yes, a mini stapler. It was hot pink to boot (c'mon, gimme a break...I bought it in the mid-90's, hot pink was in, and acceptible). Seriously, what am I going to do with a hot pink mini stapler? If I was captain on a plane and some dude was trying to hijack with a hot pink mini stapler, I think I'd just give him the plane out of respect for the sheer balls it would take to even attempt it. "What is that...is that...a mini stapler? Is that...pink? Allright, you know what dude, you can just have it, you got some cajones man."

All the nonsense is bad enough, but it didn't help that many of the workers at LAX had an attitude. They clearly didn't want to be there, and made sure to remind you of that every 15.2 seconds. The thing about Japan is, the service here is good, really good. You can go into a random convienence store and ask for directions for a place the clerk has never heard of in his or her life, and instead of saying "Sorry, can't help you" they'll be busting out maps and GPS locators and shit. Maybe even sending out field scouts and repositioning satellites. ...This doesn't happen in LA, nuh-uh sucker. I was stuck in a long line, and my connecting flight was less than an hour from departure. I tried to get help, but...

Me: Um, excuse me? My connecting flight leaves pretty soon and...
Worker: That line! You stand there! *walks off*
Me: Oh no tell me you didn't just walk off while I was in mid-sentence...
Worker: *can't hear me because she's now 50 feet away telling someone else to stand in this accursed line*

It wasn't all bad though. The flight over was actually really, really kick ass. When I checked in and the gate agent asked me about seat preference, I gave my usual "Well, I have really long legs, so anything you could give me with a little extra leg room would be greatly appreciated." The agent, who was Japanese, looked up and me and decided I was simply the largest human she'd ever seen, and she was going to have to help me.

Her: Well, if it's allright with you sir, I can sit you in Executive Class.
Me: No woman, sit me in steerage with the rest of the cattle. ...OHMYGODDOIT!

And yes, Executive Class was freaking sweet. My favorite part though was boarding. You know when it gets close to boarding time and you see the gate staff congregating near the gates...people have a tendency to get up and line up even though the boarding announcement hasn't been made yet. ...And what's up with that, anyway? What's the rush? We're going to be stuck on that bird for 10 hours or more and you're rushing to get on? You can have that one. Anyway, people were doing that when the pre-boarding announcement came up for disabled passengers, first class, and business/executive. I just kind of stupidly sat there (because it usually never applies to me), but then right at the last minute, like the precise moment that they were going to open up boarding for economy, I realized that hey, Executive Class applies to me! The gate staff completely stopped everyone who was just about to pass through the gates so that I could get in on the Executive Boarding. I was sitting near the back of the terminal too, and you better believe I took my sweet time in walking straight past everyone who'd already lined up so I could board the plane before this. What this was, essentially, was the biggest Gaijin Smash I have ever performed in Japan.

And damn, it felt goooooooooooooooooood.

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