Remember the good old days of airline travel? Of course you don't, there never were any. But as I await my connecting flight in Toronto's Terminal 3 after having visited GTAA's version of a food court (at least they got the "court" part right), I can't help wondering if we weren't better off letting people exhale carcinogenic cigarettes in an enclosed space reminiscent of Das Boot.
At least back then we were blissfully ignorant of our follies. Nowadays, we're so painfully aware of the dangers involved in pretty much any object known to humankind except certain products made by Fisher Price (provided they'll fit in the overhead bin) that we've even banned entire states of matter. And judging from the smells emanating from the passenger in front of me, they've banned the wrong one if you...ummm...catch my drift.
And if you think the war on liquid is based on increased security, that's where you're wrong. That's just the cover story. Think about it. If large quantities of liquids really posed a threat, why would airports implement a policy that can be thwarted simply with a thermos full of frozen coffee? Or by two passengers working in conjunction and using the well-know Law of Clandestine Combinatorics whereby the first passenger adds 100ml of his liquid to 100ml of passenger two's liquid, starting a chemical reaction that causes permanent hissy fits in airport security personnel.
So the public's security clearly isn't the root of this latest rule. And unlike other recent changes to airline laws, it also isn't the result of US lawmakers playing a drunken game of "let's make the general public our bitch".
No, this one is the result of a sinister cadre of lobbyists that represent that most evil of organizations: the travel-sized toiletry industry.
I stumbled on this realization through careful observation of the security screening process twice this morning. In both cases, I was asked by a friendly neighbourhood security person if it would be okay for him/her to rifle through my bag. (By the way, the answer to that question is "yes" only if the contents of the bag are less sensitive than the contents of your colon.)
My Ziploc bag of toiletries was cause for concern each time. But they took one look at the contents and said, "why, these are travel-sized containers and thus, are no cause for alarm. You may carry on your business, Mr. Baley." To which I replied, "h-how do you know my name?" and they would narrow their eyes and say, "Mr. Baley, it would be in your best interest to move along." Then they would smile brightly and add, "and don't forget to stop by the duty-free shop for a travel-sized mouthwash and deodorant! Remember, if you can use it more than twice, it has no business on our airplanes!"
Unfortunately, it might be too late to fight this new menace. They've been lurking in the shadows for too long pulling the strings in many other industries. Making cigarette companies believe their product was actually safer than bathing with toasters. Encouraging beer companies to advertise with the message that if you drank heavily, you would cavort with comely lasses of questionable virtue rather than homely toilet bowls of questionable contents. Activating Tom Cruise's long-dormant "Crazy Chip" implant. Anywhere controversy could be used to distract us from their hidden dealings.
By diverting our attention away from this seemingly-benign issue, they've paved the way for world domination through high-priced products comprised almost entirely of packaging. The next step will be slowly increasing the restriction until the point where anything more than an eye-dropper of toothpaste will be banned. By this time, of course, the packaging for these products will be bigger than your allowable carry-on baggage size.
And we'll not only sit back and take it, we'll actually encourage it. We've already started through the use of impatient toe-tapping and annoyed sighs whenever someone ahead of us in the security line holds us up and sheepishly admits that she didn't realize the nail polish she is carrying ranks just above eating thumbtacks safety-wise. (Incidentally, the people who complain loudest are the same ones who, when they're driving, will say things like, "Would you look at that guy veering across two lanes of traffic. I mean why can't he pick a lan--what's that, honey? Oh sorry, I didn't realize we had to go to the mall first, let me cut off the people in these four lanes to get to the exit. Anyway, what's the matter with people on the road these days?")
In the meantime, enjoy your Costco runs while you still can.