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No pat downs or scanners for me

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Column by Jim Clark

By Jim Clark

And you wonder why I don’t fly.

I can’t remember how many times I have led off a column with that phrase.

Recently, I’ve been reading all the complaints about the body scans and pat-down searches at the nation’s airports. I’ve read about people who are ready to have the TSA searchers arrested for assault, about district attorneys who say they will prosecute these people if the searches get too personal. I’ve read about long lines, attempted boycotts, how different airports seem to have different standards, about how traumatizing it is to young children to be searched, etc.

My philosophy is very simple: If I don’t drive, I don’t go.

I remember the last time I flew, which wasn’t that long ago, maybe 15 years. I was landing in Atlanta (doesn’t everybody?) and we got about six feet off the runway and the plane suddenly dropped down onto the tarmac. We jolted so hard that the overheads on the plane opened and stuff fell out. I had been flying standby and was the last one on the plane, and all I could think of was that I was going to die on that plane, and my wife didn’t even know I was on that flight.

We made it to the gate and, unfortunately, I had another leg to complete, a flight to Huntsville, Ala. I reluctantly got on the plane, landed at Huntsville without incident, and have never set foot on an aircraft again.

Now I start feeling sick every time I’m near an airport. I guess it’s a mental block, but I’m not going to do anything about it. I’m fine staying away from those heavy chunks of metal that somehow manage to get off the ground.

That brings me back to what is going on at the nation’s airports under the guise of security. Most people understand the reason for the searches, but many are objecting to the way they’re being conducted.

I’ve also read interviews with the head of security, who seems to be as arrogant as government employees get.

Don’t you know that somewhere in his deluxe cave, Osama bin Laden is laughing every time he reads about Americans complaining about security. He knows that he and his radical followers have caused all these problems, and he loves it.

They say that statistics show that flying is the safest way to travel. I answer that by saying “Yes, but at what price?”

So give me a bunch of CDs, my cruise control and my road atlas, and I’ll be on my way.

My company is talking about a possible editors’ meeting in Kentucky this spring. While many others may fly, I’ll take a couple of extra days and have a leisurely drive, going through either Atlanta or Nashville (this may surprise you, but Atlanta is better).

But at least when I get to Atlanta, I won’t have to change cars. And the only searching done will be by me, making sure I’m bringing everything I’m supposed to.

And as along as I don’t run into any snow … I’ll be fine.

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at editor@smcitizen.com or at 352-854-3986.