Lucero, The Living Room, Providence, RI

Watching Ben Nichols, I was struck by how much he seemed to be influenced by Jawbreaker/Jets to Brazil’s Blake Schwarzenbach – same singing/guitar playing stance, even the same hair. I can’t remember the last time we left the house at 10:30 on a Monday night, but we timed it perfectly and arrived right before Lucero started. That Much Futher West opener, Nights Like These, and The War solo semi-encore were memorable, as was the fact that the bass player seemed to only play during 75% of the music, taking his bass off constantly and walking off the stage on at least two occasions.

Lucero, The Living Room, Providence, RI

Family

A few weekends ago, we drove down to New Jersey to visit my new baby cousin. Actually, this is my cousin’s child (his first), so I’m pretty sure that makes baby A my first cousin, once removed. (I had to ask my wife to explain the different kinds of cousins again; she’s a real hit at cocktail parties.)

It’s a long drive to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, from Providence, Rhode Island. Now, I don’t really dislike driving all that much. If I have an entertaining driving companion, or there’s something good on the radio, or my iPod is charged, I’ll drive just about any distance happily. This is a good thing since my new job includes a commute of at least an hour each way. The problem is that it’s one of those drives where the theoretical commute time is low enough that I’m never satisfied with my actual drive time. Google Maps says it’s 45 minutes, and I’ve never made it in less than an hour.

Maybe it was this pent up frustration that led to the following exchange, somewhere between interchanges 8 and 7 on the New Jersey Turnpike. As we inched forward in the nearly unmoving traffic, my wife sighed but said bracingly, “Well, we should be there in about an hour.”

“Could be longer,” I snapped.

“Could be longer”? Why would I say that? Was I trying to challenge the accuracy of her statement? Did I interpret her reassuring comment as a scientific hypothesis, and was I offended that it was untested? Why did I find her resigned optimism so infuriating?

I think it was this: my personal satisfaction with a drive isn’t determined my how long the drive is, but rather it is inversely proportional to the amount of time I spend in first gear. If we’d been an hour late but with nothing but open highway before us, I would have responded, “An hour? Pshaw!” and floored it. I would much rather drive for an hour and half at highway speeds than for an hour in a traffic jam.

Isn’t that stupid? At least it explains why I got snippy on the turnpike: we’d just missed our best chance to get off the highway and find a slower but less busy route. If I have one complaint about the New Jersey Turnpike, it would be that the exits are so far apart that once you miss one, you are pretty thoroughly screwed. Nonetheless, we made it to Cherry Hill with our marriage intact, to (I presume) the dismay of my uncle.

My uncle P— does not approve of my relationship with R—. It’s not that he – I don’t know – thinks she’s not good enough for me, or doesn’t like her in some way. I’d guess that he doesn’t even have an opinion about her personally. No, his problem is that she’s not Jewish.

My uncle and my cousins are the considerably more observant branch of the family. My siblings and I have always enjoyed visiting my aunt (my mom’s sister) and my cousins. We used to visit them at least once a year, including an annual summer trip to the Jersey Shore. As kids, we knew that they were more observant than we were, and we knew not to mention things like “pepperoni pizza” around them, but we always had a good time. And I don’t think it’s exactly a secret to them anymore that my immediate family is somewhat more lax, Jewishly speaking, than they are. I can’t tell whether or not they think less of us, but if they do, they don’t let on.

As adults, my siblings and I still have a great time with my aunt and my cousins, even if sometimes they don’t seem to get our sense of humor, and even if we’re slightly on edge the whole time we’re there, terrified we might turn off a light we’re not supposed to on Saturday, or forget a major upcoming holiday, or just blurt out “pork!”

When my uncle found out that R— and I were engaged, he started a passive-aggressive guerilla campaign to talk me out of it. I say “passive-aggressive” and “guerilla” because he never said anything to my face (or hers) about it. In fact, the first time R— went with us to visit them, she made a great impression on him (and the rest of the family) by talking to him at great length about genealogy, a topic that’s of great interest to him and to almost no one else. No, his disapproval was expressed in the form of unsigned newspaper clippings or packages, sent to me about every four to six months over the course of our two-year engagement. One might be an article copied out of the Philadelphia Inquirer, with a headline like, “Jewish Community Speaks Out Against Intermarriage.” Or he might send me an old prayer book, with a post-it note saying “this was your grandfather’s” and a bookmark distributed by a Jewish organization that blared the warning: “Will your grandchildren be using this book?” I guess Uncle P— thought that if he could just bring enough third-party arguments to bear, I’d see the light and break off my engagement.

Needless to say, he skipped the wedding. I was offended, but not too broken up about it, because my aunt and my cousins came, and we had a great time. (My cousins, interestingly enough, sat out the wedding ceremony itself but joined us for the reception, which I presume was their compromise between their religious disapproval of our hybrid/interfaith wedding and their familial desire to support and celebrate with us. I’m not sure Emily Post would approve, but they were a big part of making the hora work, so we were cool with it.)

We hadn’t really spoken to Uncle P— since the wedding, and I wasn’t really looking forward to any sort of confrontation, so I wasn’t too disappointed when, after we arrived at my aunt’s house, he came home and made a beeline for their bedroom without stopping to say hello. It was Saturday afternoon, after Shabbat services, and we just figured maybe he needed a nap.

We spent all afternoon having a great time with my aunt and the three of my four cousins (including two of their spouses) who were in the country. We polished off lunch, we paged through family albums, we trotted out inside jokes, we put a serious dent in a pile of coconut cookies and blueberry cake, and we passed from lap to lap the most adorable baby I have ever seen. As the day wore on, though, we noticed something odd.

P— never left his bedroom.

My wife and my sister and I were bunking in the basement overnight, and we stayed up pretty late into the night whispering about it. “Is – is P— hiding from us?” “I think he’s boycotting!” “Is he sick?” Surely if P— hadn’t been feeling well, it would have been explained to us, or at least one of his kids would have said, “Where’s dad?” The fact that no one, over the entire course of our visit, even mentioned his absence clearly indicated to us that it was pre-arranged. As far as we could guess, Uncle P— must have wanted to disown me for marrying a non-Jew, but couldn’t get the rest of the family to go along with it, so decided to just do it himself. It was a one-man protest.

The most surreal moment came late Saturday night while we were all sitting around the dining room table eating various extravagant sundaes brought back from Friendly’s. My aunt’s cell phone rang, and she picked it up. “Hello? No. Yeah. No. No. Ok.” My cousin asked who it was. “Dad,” she answered.

He called her cell phone. From the bedroom. To ask someone to bring him his ice cream rather than come out and get it himself – and thereby risk having to see or talk to us.

I say “us,” but I have to believe his beef is actually with me. R— may be a non-Jew, but I’m the one who married her. What makes his sad, silent protest all the more weird is that my family has tried this experiment before. I’m not the first one to marry a non-Jew: my uncle Joel was briefly disowned when he married his wife 20-something years ago, but after a while the extended family seemed to relent and let him back into the fold. I thought that we, as a family, had learned a lesson there; I guess P— didn’t.

R— and I debriefed from the weekend in a McDonald’s at a rest stop on I-95, on the way home the next day. (We were eating those new sesame ginger salads, which we almost avoided on principle because the commercials are so annoying, but which turned out to be surprisingly good. Maybe our standards were lower in a rest stop than they’d be elsewhere – and there’s a weird sort of cognitive dissonance that results from eating edamame at a McDonald’s off the highway – but we’d recommend the salad.) Did P— really believe that by sequestering himself in his bedroom for the duration of our visit that he was somehow punishing us? Given his attitude towards the two of us, did he think we’d be disappointed not to be able to see him?

What made it unbelievable was that, to spite us, or to lodge a lonely protest against what he thought was an unforgivable betrayal of the Jewish people, or something, he sacrificed 24 hours with his new four-month-old grandson. Who was visiting for a week. From Israel. I… I don’t get it.

At this rate, Uncle P— is going to excise himself from the lives of each my siblings one by one. My brother has dated a string on non-Jewish women, and I’m not sure that religion is top-most on his list of criteria when evaluating a potential mate. And then there are my sisters. (Lesbians.)

I’m sorry that he feels the way he does, even if I think he’s being a jackass. R— summed up our ambivalence about the whole thing very neatly: “I’m… offended? But… kind of relieved? And, you know, if he’s going to sequester himself in his bedroom every time we’re there, half of me wants to never visit ever again – and half of me wants to go visit every weekend.”

Family

How Continental Raised the Price on ALL Their Tickets, (at least to me).

I’m back from JR’s Family’s Lake Erie Reunion. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and indeed, I actually had a little fun. However, the major excitement was Sunday when we arrived at the airport to fly home. Somehow, I made the colossally idiotic mistake of buying my ticket for Monday the 18th instead of Sunday the 17th. I’m not quite sure how it happened because I AM quite certain I never entered the 18th as an option for flying. I do take responsibility for not confirming the information on my ticket was correct before buying it and for not checking it sooner to make a change.
I hoped the flight hadn’t sold out and that I would be able to sweet-talk my onto the plane at minimal extra cost. At worst, I figured, I’d pay the industry-standard $100 change fee. When I went to the Continental counter, the woman told me Continental has a strict policy of not allowing people to fly standby until the day of their original flight. She also informed me it would be $320 on top of what I had already spent in order to change my ticket to fly that day. Flabbergasted, I asked her how much it would cost to skip my original flight and buy a new ticket on the flight I had planned on taking. Incredibly, buying a new ticket and forgoing the next day’s flight would only cost $280. I didn’t understand how buying 2 tickets could be cheaper than changing my old ticket and if I was going to buy a new ticket, I wanted to do some comparison shopping.
First stop was Southwest Airlines where the woman was shocked Continental wouldn’t change my ticket or allow me to fly standby. She seemed genuinely offended as an employee of the airline industry that another airline would have such ridiculous policies. She informed me that the best she could do was a flight from Cleveland to Baltimore to Providence for $185. She even reserved the ticket for me without making me pay so I could check with some of the other airlines. She also suggested I call Continental to try to talk to a supervisor. United was $611 and Independence was $250.
Having collected my facts, I dialed Continental’s 800 number and waited on hold for several minutes before reaching Helen. Helen told me the same thing the woman behind the counter had, that there is a strict policy against allowing people to fly standby unless it’s the day of their original flight, that the cost to change the ticket would be $320, and that a new ticket would be $280. Helen didn’t seem to care when I argued that it didn’t make sense they would charge me so much (or charge me at all) since they obviously had seats available. I mentioned that Southwest was willing to fly me for $185 and told her that they may get the $280 out of me because I was desperate, but I would never fly Continental again. I also mentioned I would spend the next month telling everyone I knew how stupid I had been to buy the wrong ticket, but especially how greedy Continental had been in trying to take advantage of it. Helen told me there was nothing she could do and something to the effect of “You should probably fly on Southwest if you don’t want to pay $280.” She then suggested I try to get someone at the airport to do something about it.
I got back in line steeling myself for what I knew could be an epic battle. The problem as I saw it was my total lack of leverage. Continental didn’t need to do anything for me because I had already paid for a ticket for the next day’s flight. They didn’t need to do anything for me because they had their money and that was final regardless of what I decided to do. I had a minor scuffle with the woman directing people to the counter after she was offended I was talking on my phone while in her line. I don’t remember much about the incident, but I include it as further proof that Continental needs to focus harder on customer service.
I approached the woman at counter 19 tingling with trepidation and excitement. I felt excitement because I envisioned an intense match of verbal sparring where I could pontificate loudly on issues involving efficiency, logic, customer service, money, and right and wrong. I felt trepidation because the last thing I wanted was to spend $280 more than I had already spent.
And then nothing. I explained to the woman behind the counter that I had mistakenly purchased a ticket for Monday’s flight when I really wanted to fly today. She nodded and told me she could change my flight, but she’d have to charge me a $100 change fee. I quickly handed her my credit card before something happened to increase the price of my fare and walked away stunned after telling her she had made my day. I think she really appreciated me saying that. I had never been so happy to spend $100.
I don’t know if Continental thought someone else was going to rush into the airport 25 minutes before boarding willing to pay the premium price they had assigned to the ticket. That can be the only explanation for not allowing me to fly standby on a flight that clearly wasn’t full. And I don’t understand why 2 different employees refused to let me fly standby or pay $100 to change my ticket citing strict company policies before a third employee did so without pause. You’d think Continental and every other company would try to fill up every plane all the time and would willingly sell tickets to people at some small margin above cost 25 minutes before the plane boarded. Much like an ice cream store giving out ice cream in the event of a power outage, giving it out in exchange for good will and nothing more, Continental should have welcomed me aboard in an effort to fill up every sellable bit of space on that plane. (Empty seats are giant tubs of melted ice cream, as it were) In the end, the flight took off an hour late further lowering the value of the service Continental provided me. As far as I’m concerned, every flight I take on Continental leaves at least an hour late as my flight from Boston to Cleveland took off an hour and a half after it was supposed to.
In the interest of full disclosure, what I said to Helen about never flying on Continental again isn’t totally true. At this stage in my professional career, I can’t afford to be so stubbornly principled. The next time I’m looking for flights, I’ll fly on Continental if it’s significantly cheaper than any other option. This means that the Continental flight will have to be direct and cost at least $40 less than the next lowest option. So in reality, what I should have said to Helen was “You may get your $280 out of me, but it’s going to make each of your flights appear $40 more expensive than they are for the next 5-15 years. However, I will certainly stop flying Continental as soon as I make enough money to base economic decisions on terrible prior experiences.”

How Continental Raised the Price on ALL Their Tickets, (at least to me).

Hillary and Chuck

Yesterday afternoon an intense weather system moved over the Northeast and made for some nasty conditions. Walking across the parking lot from the train, I came as close to having a Luke Skywalker killing his ton-ton moment as I’ve ever had in my life. One thing that stopped me was my semi-animal friendly disposition and another thing was my lack of ton-tons. I accepted my lack of ton-tons and trudged furiously to my car.

The locks on my car have a habit of freezing up when the temperature drops suddenly. I finally got in through the passenger side after several desperate minutes in the 100 million mile an hour winds and the snow, sleet, and hail, that was actually blowing up. After I got into the car, the windshield needed serious attention, except since I couldn’t get out of the driver’s side door, I decided to drive home and hope the windshield wipers would do their job. They didn’t and I think this driving was the worst of my life including van and trailers in torrential downpours on steep mountain roads.

Anyway, this morning, as I got into my car to drive to the train it was the first beautiful morning in a long time and I was feeling pretty good. That was until I tried shutting the door and realized that instead of my door being frozen closed and locked, the latch had frozen open. The door literally would not stay shut without my holding it. WTF, right? Although I eventually figured out that I could keep the door jammed shut by shoving an ice scraper though the armrest, I drove to the train serenaded by the “Doo-Bee-Doop” door chime. I made the best of it by pretending it was techno.

Because of traffic and my car door, I didn’t make the 8:30 train to South Station. Big deal, I’d take the 9:05. Unfortunately, the 9:05 got canceled. AT FIVE PAST TEN! The 10:02? I don’t know if it ever came because I left the station at 10:35 with Hillary and Chuck, two strangers I had been chatting with at the train station. After realizing the train probably wouldn’t come unil 10:45 anyway, I decided to drive and figured I might as well have company (and maybe some help splitting the cost of the trip?)

Anyway, I found out a lot about Hillary, not because she talked a lot, but because I think Chuck was hitting on her and kept asking her lots of questions. Chuck was probably mid to late thirties and he worked for a marketing company from Providence that had offices in Boston. Hillary, early twenties, was a bartender for a bar near Fenway Park and illustrated children’s books. She just graduated from Mass Art and lived in Attleboro with her boyfriend. Chuck moved to Attleboro about a year and a half ago to live more in the woods. Hillary’s brother plays music and he’s a music teacher, but he’s in law school now. He’s pretty good with HTML and might help her make a website to display her art. Chuck plays music on the weekends in a Pink Floyd tribute band. Hillary didn’t seem to mind Chuck hitting on her and at times she even seemed to be working him for a tip, like all good bartenders. Neither of them offered any money for gas or parking.

Everyone’s got interesting stories if you take a minute to ask them questions. You find out a lot more if you let someone else hit on them for a while, though.

Hillary and Chuck

Thanksgiving

Ah, November!

I love the fall. It’s absolutely my favorite season. I like gray days with a nip in the air. Autumn is my best season, sartorially speaking. I have skinny legs, so shorts aren’t particularly flattering; give me short-sleeve shirts with long pants, and then I can add sweaters, sweatshirts, button-downs, pullovers, jackets…

Where was I going with this? Anyway, autumn. I love apple cider, hot, with a cinnamon stick. I love wreaths with Indian corn. (Wait—Can I say “Indian corn?” Is there a more sensitive name I should be using?) I love deciduous trees, leaves on and off.

Ok, I should probably revise that. This was my first fall owning a house with a yard that needed raking. Our lawn was completely covered with a 3 inch coating of dead leaves, that got rained, snowed, and rained on. Raking was a treat, let me tell you, and especially bagging. We filled nineteen plastic garbage bags full of leaves, and schlepped them to the curb. I know, I know, plastic bags are bad, we should be using paper lawn bags. Well, my better half went to every store in a five mile radius, and they were out of them, so we used what we had. Believe me, I’d have rather used the paper bags, they hold more than the plastic ones, and it would have made for less schlepping.

Anyway, imagine my surprise and delight when we came home the next to day to find that the leaves hadn’t been taken with the trash; rather each bag had a small green sticker reading “Leaves must be in PAPER BAGS only!”

“Noooooooooooooooooo!”

Thanks very much, City of Providence, how did you know I wanted to spend the Sunday after Thanksgiving moving sixty cubic feet of wet leaves from one bag to another? Bastards.

Ah, but autumn, and Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s really my family’s only big family holiday. Oh, sure, when we were younger we had Chanukah. Ah, Chanukah. Every year mom would put out a pile of presents for each of us, and my siblings and I would begin the careful rationing to make sure we had something good to open on the later nights. (“And believe it or not, that little pile of presents, only enough for one night, lasted for eight whole nights. And that’s why we light the candles for eight nights every year.”) There was more to Chanukah than presents, of course. I have warm memories of lighting the menorah as a family – and when I say warm memories, I mean it literally. I have two sisters and a brother, and we each had to have our own menorah, plus mom had to light one, and that one’s my favorite, can I light two this year? Suffice it to say by the fifth night or so, we had to take the batteries out of the smoke detector.

Wait, what was I talking about? Thanksgiving.

My family has spent it together every year for as long as I can remember. If Chanukah coincided with college breaks, great, we’d be there, but we always came home for Thanksgiving. Most importantly, at least since our mom died, my sister and I have done all of the cooking. We’re good at it now, but I have to believe it was a bit of a leap of faith for my dad the first year. Especially since we won’t allow anyone in the kitchen while we’re cooking. (We like our space.)

I almost decided not to go home for Thanksgiving this year, but my sister was aghast. And she’s right, we have some traditions that we can’t miss. Every year, there’s the phone conversation where we “decide on the menu.”

Me: “Oh man, I saw the greatest stuffing recipe on [insert name of Food Network show]. We should totally make our own stuffing this year.”

Li’l Sis: “I don’t know…”

Me: “It’ll be so good! Dried cranberries, and sausage, and sage…”

Li’l Sis: “But Stove Top is so delicious!”

Me: “Stove Top?! C’mon, just once we should make our own stuffing.”

Li’l Sis: “Sooooo deliciousss…”

Me: “But– But– Sigh. Fine.”

And so, every year, I come home to find the big red box of Stove Top stuffing, and every year it’s delicious. Every year we make our secret garlic mashed potatoes, the details of which I am sworn not to reveal. Every year there’s some kind of sweet potato, homemade cranberry sauce, and assorted other odds and ends. The turkey is a whole ‘nother thing. My sister and I have a pretty basic turkey recipe which we augment slightly every year (brining overnight, roasting on a bed of aromatic veggies, herbed butter under the skin, baste with orange juice), but the key tradition is the “argument” over who has to reach up the turkey’s ass and pull out the bag of innards.

I wimp out every year.

(Oh man, I just remembered. I don’t know if anyone else saw the Food Network All-Star Thanksgiving special. Seven of their stars, each contributing a dish, with my man Alton Brown bringing the turkey. The food was cool, sure, but the highlight for me was the end, when they’re all sitting around the table eating, and Emeril and Tyler Florence are piling food onto Giada de Laurentiis’s plate, saying “You’re too thin, you’re the thinnest one here, you have to eat!” and the camera cuts to Rachael Ray whose facial expression is clearly saying, “Are you calling me fat?” Priceless.)

Last year, actually, was an aberration. Every year my dad talks about frying a turkey, and every year we assert our dominion over the preparation of the meal. Well, the year before we’d run out of ideas for presents for him (what do you get for the man who wants everything?) so we bought him – wait for it – a turkey fryer. Yeah, I don’t know what we were expecting would happen at Thanksgiving other than that we’d agree to let him fry a turkey. (Of course, he bought a Cajun-seasoned turkey, because if there’s one thing my dad’s all about, it’s gilding the lily).

Drunk with power, he topped himself by also mail-ordering a turducken. C’mon, you’ve heard of this gastronomic monstrosity: it’s a boneless chicken, stuffed in a boneless duck, stuffed in a boneless turkey, with two different kinds of stuffing in there. We had Thanksgiving dinner two nights in a row, and I’m still full just thinking about it. This year we put our foot down, and dad agreed: back to regular turkey.

So I’m going home. Look, I’ve done the air travel bit, and you all know traveling on Thanksgiving weekend sucks, but I have to go. My sister and I have to pitch a fit that everyone’s in the kitchen while we’re trying to cook. We have to have our last-minute panic that the turkey’s not going to be done, and kick everyone out of the kitchen while we scramble to assemble an aluminum foil shield to prevent the breast from burning. We have to re-remember which one of our siblings doesn’t like pumpkin pie. We have to be patiently smile and nod as we’re reminded for the seven millionth time to make a separate dish of potatoes for Grandma, because Grandma doesn’t eat butter. (Doesn’t eat butter – wrap your brain around that one.) We have to tell our dad that we’ll call him when it’s time to carve the turkey, and until then, could he please get the hell out of the kitchen?

Family.

I don’t really have a point I’m coming to here, except that I’m glad to be going home. So, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. And please, for my sanity and your safety, please, please get the hell out of my kitchen.

Thanksgiving

Air Rage

Hey, America. Thanks for coming in. Look, I realize it’s been a tough couple of years lately, and I understand you’re having a little trouble getting back on your feet. I’ve been cutting you some slack, letting little things slide… I don’t mean to get all up in your face, but I think I have to say something about the airport.

I understand, America, that travel, and air travel in particular, has a mystique. There’s a sense of wonder, of unbridled possibility, of the unexpected. But here’s the thing, people: the security checkpoint shouldn’t be unexpected.

Can there really be anyone out there who doesn’t know that they’re going to have to put their bags through an X-ray machine and walk through a metal detector? Even someone who’s never been on a plane before – and there’s no way that all of the people I’ve been in line behind have never been on a plane before – must have some notion of how the security works. And yet, standing in line behind many of you, impatience turning to frustration turning to rage, I begin to doubt whether some of you get it. I hate to do this, but I’m going to have to call out two of you in particular.

Cell phone lady? Red hair, too much makeup, too little pants? Providence? Yeah, you. Look, I don’t know who, exactly, you were talking to, but I overheard your half of the conversation, and believe me, it could have waited the two minutes it would have taken for you to just hang the damn phone up and go through security. Do you not see the forty people standing in line behind you? Yeah, we’re waiting for you. Yup, still standing here. It’s your life, certainly, but it’s easier to put your oversized faux-Louis Vitton bag on the belt if you take the phone away from your ear for two seconds. God! Hang up the damn PHONE!

Ok, sorry, sorry, didn’t mean to snap at you, cell phone lady. Because, really, you were nothing compared to old guy in Nashville. Sir, seriously. I get it, you’re old. You’re slow. You have a cane. But does age necessarily have to mean a proliferation of pockets? Because you, sir, had many, many pockets. The two side pockets of your pants. The two back pockets of your pants. Your jacket had two side pockets and one inside pocket. And of course, your shirt breast pocket. Each one of these pockets, believe it or not, had something metal in it that had to go into a little tub on the conveyor belt: keys, change, pens, gum wrappers, paper clips, I don’t even know what. The thing is, you must have put these things in your pockets. It can’t have been a SURPRISE to you that you had thirty-seven pockets full of CRAP, so why did you have to stand there, patting each one in turn, looking satisfied and then remembering that wait, yes, most pants have pockets on BOTH sides, and I’d threaten to stuff you headfirst through the X-ray machine if I didn’t think that would be suspicious behavior.

Seriously, people. We all know the security check is coming. Take the crap out of your pockets, and put it in your bag. Yes, even your keys and your change and especially your cell phone. It’s not hard. It takes fifteen seconds while waiting in line. When you get to the scanner, throw your bag on the belt, put your shoes in the tub, do one last pocket pat just for show, smirk at the rubes emptying their pockets behind you, and then march through like a champion!

And then your belt buckle sets the thing off. But really, at that point at least you’ve done your best.

Air Rage