First off, please understand I absolutely *loathe* what airline travel has become. Our general feeling is if we can't fly ourself, we're not going. Unfortunately the DayJob(tm) has a policy against me flying myself on company business. I can usually evade airline travel requests with a simple "I don't have a passport". Unfortunately that excuse failed with a request to visit a California customer. I strenuously objected "Yea they might technically be one of the 57 states, they are in reality a foreign country and I don't have a passport, let alone a visa. Heck I even doubt my shots are up to date for a visit." The weren't buying it and unfortunately I am (Tix that is)...
Outbound leg: 20 minutes in the 'theater queue and finally at the front of the line. TSA'droid finishes with her previous priority pax and tells me to hold "I don't have a line to send you to". I politely inquire about line "n" which seems to have a reasonably short line. "Oh no... that line is too long too."
A millesecond later the 'droid next to her becons. He scans my details and promptly sends me on to the very same line "n" I previously inquired about. The lips vigorously struggle to contain the tongue as it struggles to erupt and point in the first 'droids general direction. Happily it seems to be the one line where the virtual voyeurs are on break. So no "harmless" (mostly) irradiation.
Meeting over and my exit visa came through to leave the PRC (Peoples Republic of California). Rental car refueled and returned (another story in itself). Across the street, up the escalators to enter the security zone; Shoes off, laptops (plural) in separate bins, along with shoes, glasses, coinage, etc.
Suddenly an alarm is called. A couple minutes later even the TSA 'droids manning the gate are grousing about the drill. "We already had a real event this morning, why do we need a drill now?" Everyone is frozen in position and there is no commotion to suggest the event is real. But the exit doors are closed and locked; the only thing moving here is the line and it's growing! 15 minutes later the all clear is called. No sweat for me, I'd allowed for a long commute in from over the hill and traffic was lighter than expected. Whatever//// just a couple fewer pages of Weston Ochse's "Empire of Salt" consumed before boarding (and it's really getting good).
Meanwhile I'd recognized one of the TSA 'droids manning my checkpoint. Last time through the same checkpoint he noted the (subdued) NRA logo on my bag and we got to talking about guns. I reminded him of the conversation and he too remembered. The ensuing gunnie talk helps to pass the time.
BTW, I was happy to see the "irradiate me now" machines were closed and blocked off; Only the metalDetectors.std were in use.
The freedom flight pushed back at the scheduled time, and between me and the guy on the aisle we managed to ward off a middle seater. Not fighting over the armrest dramatically improves the quality of the flight.
So fifteen minutes of delay for everyone, for absolutely no return. My only takeaway from this exercise is that the 'droids hearing the initial SOS call is 100% functional today. You're welcome for the 15 minutes of my life I'll never get back.
Gawd I hate what airline travel has become...