Saturday, July 21, 2007


Chicken in the car and the car won't go

I've arrived in Chicago for the 69th IETF meeting, and for some pre-conference meetings with the IAB. [The entry's title is an old childhood chant identifying “Chicago” (it helps if you elide the r's, as we did in New York). A similar one for “Manhattan” went, “Man had a hat and the hat was tan.”]

I'm always impressed, when I come here, at how well the CTA train, the “El”, works in getting one from the airport to downtown. In New York, you can get from JFK or Newark airports to midtown Manhattan by train, but you have to change trains twice, you have to use stairs (so you'd better not have big, heavy bags), and it takes a long time. Here, you hop on the El's blue line at O'Hare, and just $2 and an hour later you're at Monroe St, a block and a half from the Palmer House.

I got on the train at O'Hare at about 8:00 Friday evening, and took a seat. While I waited for the train to go, an airport employee, a 30-ish man, came in and sat across the aisle. Soon, a 30-ish woman in a TSA uniform came in and sat near the man, and the friends warmly greeted each other.

Now, she works for the TSA, the United States Transportation Security Administration. She's a US government employee, responsible for making you and me safer by confiscating cigarette lighters and hair conditioner.[1] But not that morning, it seems; here's how their conversation started:

He:  Hey, how you doin'?

She: I'm tired!

He:  Me too.

She: I thought I was going to get in trouble today, but I didn't.

He:  What for?

She: Coming in three hours late.

He:  Wooo-oo! You musta partied last night!

She: [smiles and nods]

Their conversation continued, with a good deal of the sorts of descriptive modifiers that I don't use in this blog, the kind that begin with “f” and “s” (of which the introductory bit above was surprisingly devoid). And then a pair of quite young TSA employees walked past, having disembarked an arriving train, and the woman near me noted them:
When did they start hiring little kids?
Maybe, I thought, they don't come to work three hours late.

[1] One of these has recently been declared a waste of time, admitted “security theatre”, and will be discontinued in a couple of weeks. It's up to you to guess which one, if you haven't already heard.

1 comment:

Maggie said...

Maybe coming in to work three hours late is a good thing because it holds up the passengers even longer, perpetuating the illusion that they're safer because there is so much time spent checking.

Lighters, I saw that. I can't believe it. As far as I can tell, the reason is because it's expensive to the airlines to dispose of them, and let's face it, all that checking isn't making us any safer anyway. I would just like to be able to bring on my own water. Argh.