My Name Is Jane D.

Somebody — let’s call her “Jane Doe,” since I don’t want anyone to have even more trouble with the Department of Homeland Security — some hypothetical person, let”s just say, might commute to and from two major metropolitan airports every week. Since we’re imagining her, let’s imagine a tendency toward motion sickness, such that she’s a lot more comfortable sitting by a window.
 
Now let’s (hypothetically) say that the last few times she’s traveled, she’s been unable to check in online to ensure a window seat. She might, one may imagine, contact the airline directly; if she were so to do, perhaps the ticketing/reservations people would tell her that they can’t do anything for her. They might direct her to the customer relations staff. So, suppose that she did that; maybe the customer relations staff would say, “We can’t help you either; it’s a Transportation Security Administration issue.”
 
Mind you, this commuter — let’s pretend she has a nice, non-threatening vocation; maybe she’s a theology professor — has no attribute that would ordinarily associate her with those who endanger air safety (unless they’re afraid that she might throw up on someone, in which case it would be in their interest to let her reserve a seat by a window). So now, Professor Doe can’t check in early enough to get a window seat, and she can’t negotiate with the airline because some security machine has presumably identified her as a risky traveler. She would probably do what TSA wants: fax them copies of her passport, driver’s license, dental records, show size, favorite colors, and so on, and wait for the bureaucratic digestive process to emit a letter telling the airline that she’s okay.
 
In the meantime, she will have flown many more times. Without a reserved window seat. Slightly nauseous. Her competitive streak stymied.
 
Now, in what respect is the world made a safer place by preventing Professor Doe from sitting beside a window? And, do you really want to sit next to her? If you don’t, contact me, and I’ll talk to you about the plane routes that she hypothetically takes twice a week, and you can try to avoid her — though you’ll probably get seated before her, so she may sit next to you whether you like it or not. Send a letter to your congressional representatives.

5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I have yet to be tagged as a Risk to National Security, a penchant for traveling with sharp, often steely, potentially hazardous weapons camouflaged in loops of yarn notwithstanding; so the Window Seat Police have not blacklisted me. I would gladly sit with her, and we could swap.

  2. The hypothetical traveler has my deepest sympathy, as I am unable to travel on an airplane without the assistance of Dramamine (window seat definitely helps, too).

    I’m fairly sure theology professor is on the list of risky professions, though.

  3. A theology prof, you say? Goodness! The only thing more dangerous is the bible scholar!

    Seriously, though, wouldn’t we prefer our terrorists stuck in a window seat without easy jumping-out-and-surprising-you-in-the-aisle ability?

  4. Good thing I’m old enough to stop having to travel with theology professors.

    Is this, perhaps, the SAME transportation security department that didn’t see the gatorade that I forgot to remove from the exterior of my backpack? The gatorade that passed right through this supposed security system’s supposedly high tech scanner?

  5. Mark, we don’t want said suspect to see something on the ground that might allow a future negative activity.

    Bureaucracy does not promote a culture of creative solutions to real problems, especially in the face of perceived threats. “If I go by the letter of the law then I will not be guilty if something goes wrong.” “I am not paid to interpret the law just to enforce it.”

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