Tuesday, December 03, 2002

yesterday, i was standing at the airline counter, waiting to check in, holding my email printout and my driver's license, my luggage grazing my leg. there were two, count em, TWO workers holding down the fort. let me delineate the responsibilities of these two workers: Handle All Customers, ie, for three flights. by handle i mean: check them in at the counter, check id's and tickets at the actual gate, and help load baggage onto the planes themselves. does this sound ridiculous? it should. picture this: two of three flights delayed. calculate the sheer amount of people who now require rerouting on different flights or airlines, the amount of time it takes to secure these peoples' baggage, the amount of time it takes to properly handle these folks so they aren't upset. now, picture one of the workers racing around, doing this, checking id's at the gates, and doing baggage duty. picture ten TSA security workers standing at the gate itself, loafing with their wands and plastic gloves.

i turned to the people in line behind me. i feel as if we should be taking on their duties, i say. like, i'll go behind the counter and check some of us in if you go check id's and tickets at gate B4. the women immediately behind me laugh. i was serious. i was ready to ask the guy performing baggage duty, gate checking, and damage control for delayed flights what i could do for him. i offered to buy the workers coffee or hot chocolate. they were confused. "it's just that there are delayed flights, so it's hard." yes, it is hard, i see this, would you like some coffee? you get paid dirt, don't you?

The passengers stand and watch a young man near the gate for the flight for La Guardia. He stands, waiting, for ten minutes. Check my information, he is thinking, because I need to board my flight. The door to the tarmac is wide open; the plane is about to take off. The overworked airline workers are running around elsewhere. The young man considers. He walks through the gate, unchecked. The passengers stand, watch, and close their eyes and pray.

yes, there are ten TSA security agents next to the gate. yes, this is good. yes, the experience i just related proves that it isn't enough to have 389719837198642764203 TSA security agents if there is one loophole. in this case, the loophole is inadequate airline employment.

which airline, you ask.
US Airways, i respond.
isn't that the airline that is going bankrupt, asking for a federal government bailout, and the government is requiring them to Fire people before they do it, in the name of restructuring and all, you ask.
YES, i say.

We are broke, says the poorly managed airline. Bail us out, Uncle Sam.
Fire people, you jerks, says laissez-faire Uncle Sam.
Okay, says the poorly managed airline.
....and he walks through the gate, unchecked....

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