Our travels back to America were fairly uncomplicated. We went to friends the evening before we traveled. They live about 20 minutes from the airport, so that we were able to lie down a bit before leaving their house at 2 a.m.
Yes, not a great choice for travel, but we were looking at cheap, not smart.
And thankfully, returning the rental car wasn’t complicated, even at that hour. We’ve had problems in the past, so we’ve really tried to learn from our many-enough mistakes.
On the flight to Amsterdam, we even managed to sleep. The KLM staff insisted that we all shut the blinds, even though it was daylight by then. That was pretty good. Plus they offered no electronic screens, so why not?
I didn’t even pull out my sleep mask, even though I knew exactly where it was.
And since we were slightly early, we didn’t have to run like crazy folks (as we’ve done in the past) to get onto our connecting flight. I must admit that the Delta flight crew really took good care of us. And even though I enjoyed hearing the Dutch steward wish us a Happy Purim (in Hebrew) after the main purser shpieled in Dutch, my very tired ears were happy enough just to hear English.
But now I recall that I was curious to see that the Dutch followed the Israeli standard of screening us, personally interviewing us before we were allowed through security (of course, having just gotten off another plane. I’m not sure that made any sense), having to go through one of those ridiculous giant humiliation machines.
And now I remember that I had to check my carry-on, which I had packed so very carefully, assuming we would most likely have a delay in Amsterdam due to the impending snow on the east coast, so I pulled out a few basic elements, including my sleep mask. KLM didn’t charge me for the bag, but it was annoying, nonetheless.
If we got stuck, so we would deal.
But when we got back to the USA, things got really frustrating.
We were directed to an agent at the immigration line. The lines were relatively short. This agent, however, seemed to take forever even with the people in front of us. I got a weird feeling about him, even before I came face-to-face.
And so when we finally stood before him, instead of feeling welcomed back to the country, he stood out trying his hardest to make me feel rotten.
“Please remove your hats”, he said to us.
ISHI did; I didn’t. I told him that I don’t remove my head covering in public. It showed in my passport photo.
“I don’t see a letter in your passport.”
“No. I said it showed in my photo. I had a letter when I had my passport renewed. They had no problem with it.”
“Fine. You’ll need secondary clearance.”
Or something like that. My memory is already woozy of his exact words.
Oh, here it is. A handy little document showing how easy it is to get through. Just follow these easy steps. It just doesn’t say how long it will take.
There is another link of how to lodge complaints. I know I won’t do that, even anonymously. Is there anything that is really anonymous today?
I had to sit in the secondary inspection area for what felt like a really long time. There were 3 agents there. They just ignored us. Oh yes, ISHI came along for the ride. That’s what marriage is, after all.
Finally, one of the agents/officers called my name and I went up to him. Yes, a man. If he were going to frisk me down, I’d have a bigger problem. But he asked me how long I’d been away, if I had any agricultural products on me, and if I had another form of identification.
I had been flagged four years ago for “agricultural issues”. My suitcase handle broke and I was shlepping this suitcase up a long corridor; I was very tired, and I was travelling alone. I sighed very loudly and this “agent” sent me to the secondary
confessional inspection area then. They asked me questions and sent me on my way.
I had forgotten about that until this Groundhog scenario. I didn’t sigh this time, but I surely am not going to smile, either. Yes, I have my license and yes, it shows that my hair is covered there, too.
“Okay, have a nice day.”
Okay, he really didn’t say that, but whatever he said was equally as meaningless.
All these gatekeepers would be okay, I guess, if I felt that they were actually accomplishing anything, if I had any indication that they really knew what they were doing.
But I come home and read this article about a TSA employee who pointed out the no-clothes reality of these emperors. He, though, saw that most hijab-wearers were delayed and inspected. I have had the opposite experience, and so did Phyllis Chesler just the other day, as well.
An Interesting Travel Update
My trip through Security at JFK this afternoon was slowed when one of the agents spotted me holding a copy of the Jewish Press. He found it suspicious, brought it to another agent, and they had a discussion. At that point, my bags were opened and searched. Meanwhile, a woman in niqab – a veil covering the entire face except the eyes — walked through without incident. I saw no one ask her to lift the veil to check her actual identity against her documents.
And of course, don’t forget about the new toothpaste warning.
So how to respond?
By posting a lovely photo of the Galil, overlooking the Kinneret.
And a song for my Kinneret.