1) Ben Gurion is a shiny new airport (they just redid it a few years ago) with free wireless everywhere. They forgot, however, that if lots of people are enjoying all that free wireless, they might like, you know, an electrical outlet or two ANYWHERE to plug in the object from which they’re enjoying the wireless.
2) Bizarrely, my laptop, with just about zero battery capacity, managed to stay active and useable for like an hour and a half (with the battery indicator at 1% for most of it) while I waited at the gate. It was like the magic rice bowl that never gets empty. I dunno how or why, but I’m not complaining. I wound up having to close it up and board before the thing died on me.
3) United States security now is longer and dumber than ever. Having zoomed through El Al’s stuff–being thoroughly checked both in my personage and baggage by friendly, efficient, and competent people–and then getting to the US and having to wait in this long, clunky line while cranky people x-rayed my shoes and inspected my lip gloss… I mean, for pete’s sake.
The feeling that the people at the TSA really have no idea what they’re doing was stronger than ever. They should a) X-ray every checked bag (which they seem not to do) and b) have someone on staff whose job it is to do more than just look at the carry-on bags. and c) we should not have to strip down to practically our skivvies just to get through the metal detectors. One has the sense that they’re getting hung up on the wrong details.
I have come to somewhat weirdly enjoy the little chats I have with the guys at Ben Gurion whose job it is (while we wait in line for something else–so it’s not really an extra step, mind you) to see if people are nervous and twitchy (which means they get further screening). We talk about how I learned Hebrew, why I haven’t made aliyah, what I’m doing in Israel, where I hang out in the US, what my name means… they’re always random, because they’re really checking my body language–they don’t really care where I learned Hebrew. Anyway, the difference between my experience in a country where there’s an ongoing issue of people actually trying to sneak bombs into places and my experience with this clunky, long, inefficient and ineffective process in my home country is marked.
4) Long days of flying when you keep kosher are hard. Yesterday my diet consisted mainly of pretzels, muffins, power bars and a bag of potato chips. I had even bought a sandwich at Ben Gurion to take with me, but I then got hungry waiting for my flight from Tel Aviv, so I, you know, ate it.
5) I wonder how long I’m going to keep waking up at 5am.
It’s interesting that you reference the “magic rice bowl” in response to your laptop not dying, rather than one of the two stories in the Books of Kings– I Kings 17, when Elijah tells a widow her barrel of meal and jar of oil will not run out as long as there is drought, and II Kings 4, when Elisha informs a poor widow that her oil jar will keep producing oil until she has sold enough to provide for her and her kids.
TSA is dreadful. They make a huge deal about stuff, and then seem to not care about it eventually. Like liquids – they delayed us because I had creams in my purse, and after chattering about it, they just put them back in my bag and let me go — by which time I missed my flight. I have missed 3 flights because of security. They really don’t give a hoot if you have a baby and look exhausted blah blah.
Hang in there!
And remember: “Glamourous Jet-Setting Lifestyle.”
I remember some Japanese folk tale from my childhood (the kind of thing I think they read to us before we were old enough to be reading on our own) with the magic rice bowl thing and it stuck. You’re right about the Tanach references, of course, they’re just not the ones my subconscious pulled up when I was writing late and bleary. Amazing how childhood winds up wiring a person’s whole brain.
But of course they care. They are racially profiling you: they want to know if you’re Jewish! if you weren’t, then you would either be a suspected terrorist or a suspected migrant worker, or a suspected hooker. If you were an arab, you would be strip-searched. Just because you’re lucky doesn’t mean the system is operative. or just.
You’re right. All points on this issue conceded.