In all, so-called “Red Teams” of Homeland Security agents posing as passengers were able to get weapons past TSA agents in 67 out of 70 tests – a 95 percent failure rate, according to agency officials … This isn’t the first time TSA officers have failed to detect fake terrorists and their weapons. “Red Teams” have been probing TSA checkpoints for 13 years, oftentimes successfully getting weapons past airport screeners. However, this time, TSA agents failed to detect almost every single test bomb and gun, aviation experts said.


– NBC News website, June 1, 2015




What in the world is going on with the airlines?

And I don’t just mean the fact that they are dragging doctors off planes and knocking their teeth out.

No, I mean why is it that, every time you turn on the news, you see something amazingly crazy happening with airlines: rude crews harassing passengers, people sitting on a plane six hours waiting to take off, 15-year-old boys flying to Hawaii in the wheel-wells of Boeing 767’s, scorpions falling from overhead bins, passengers being molested by TSA but yet those TSA agents are totally incapable of finding the machine guns or nuclear weapons people are bringing on board, dead bodies being put in first class, girls being told they can’t board because they’re wearing leggings – and, of course, doctors being dragged off kicking and screaming.

The most recent big news item, of course, is in fact the strange case of Dr. David Dao, just some poor guy who bought a ticket and sat quietly in his seat hoping to get home to help his patients the next day. He was selected “randomly” (read: Asian) by airplane computers to exit the plane because the airline had overbooked the flight.

I love the way United Airlines phrased it in its first statement when the United PR department still had hopes of quelling public outrage. United, in its first statement, said that, since none of the passengers on the flight wanted to accept money to wait for another flight, United was forced into “an involuntary de-boarding situation.”

Which is a very nice way of saying, “We had to drag a nice Asian doctor kicking and screaming down the aisle and maybe we roughed him up a little in the process.”

So, like I said, what in the world is going on with the airlines? And then the other day the answer hit me like a bolt of lightening out of the blue and I knew exactly what the answer was …

Air travel is the new bus travel.

You know how orange is the new black? Well, at some point when we weren’t paying attention, air travel became the new bus travel.

I don’t know how it happened or why it happened; I just know that it happened.

Today, hardly anyone rides the bus for an out of town trip, but when I was growing up people used to do it all the time and I remember it well. I remember the old downtown Greensboro bus station, which was basically the scariest place on planet Earth.

Despite the station being the scariest place in the world, when I was a little kid my parents would take me or my brother or sister and put us on the bus alone to go places. This was back when very young kids traveling alone faced no dangers of any kind. You know, when I was growing up, nobody worried at all about their kids. In summer, your mother would put you on a bus to see your aunt in Lumberton and tell you, “Stick close to that man sitting in the back of the bus – he must be good with kids because he’s dressed as a circus clown and has a big bag of candy.”

Last week, when I saw the video of the good doctor being dragged off the United flight, it hit me that I’d seen that exact thing before – on buses before they left the bus station for a trip.

Just about every time you were waiting for the bus to leave, somebody would get dragged off just like in the video from the plane. Heck, usually, before any given trip, two or three people would get dragged off. Either the cops had finally identified the wanted felon fleeing town or an angry man had come on board the bus to drag his wife off because she wasn’t going to leave him for that no good Fred Jenkins in Salisbury or wherever.   Or the bus driver dragged someone off for making too much noise. It could be anything.

And, every time it happened, there was shouting and screaming just like when the doctor was dragged off. Also like Dr. Dao, sometimes the person would escape and come wandering back through the aisles, disoriented with blood running down their cheeks until they could be corralled a second time.

So that video of the doctor was my first clue that air travel is the new bus travel. But there were plenty of other clues as well, one being the way people dress when they fly now.

Listen, if you’re young or you never flew on a plane until recently, you have no idea how incredibly nice it used to be to fly. I’m not just talking about flying first class either; I’m talking about everyone who flew. When I was growing up, anytime you took the plane, it was a big splendid excursion. Back then, it was this luxurious special event every time you flew and, if you were going on a flight, you would get all dressed up – because you were going on a plane. And the stewardesses (and yes, they were all females) were all beautiful and all smiles and they brought you free food and free Pepsis. And the seats were wide, the plane no more than half full and everyone was pleasant and happy.

And now it’s like, forget it.

Now everyone on a plane looks ragged, unshaven and hung over and they are mumbling angrily to themselves – just like where? Right, like on the bus.

You need more evidence. Well, check this out …

In the ’60s, it used to take an hour and a half to fly from Greensboro to Atlanta while the bus took seven hours. And now, how long does it take to fly from Greensboro to Atlanta? Seven hours – exactly the same as the bus!

(Arrive two-hours early, stand in line, get frisked and strip searched if you are attractive, wait by the gate for the hour-late plane to arrive, board the plane, sit for 50 minutes waiting to take off, fly to Atlanta, circle over the slammed Atlanta airport for two hours waiting to land and then wait an hour and a half for your baggage to come out.)

Just about anywhere you fly now, it takes exactly as long to fly as it does to take the bus. Coincidence? Not at all – it’s just that air travel is the new bus travel so of course the trip times are identical.

Another clue: According to TSA security reports, basically, there’s no security on a plane anymore. The TSA puts on a pretty good dog and pony show at the metal detectors and they do seem to check the good-looking people very closely but, basically, whenever the government tests the system out, it fails miserably because every dangerous thing gets through.

So now it’s just like bus travel. On a bus, you can take explosives, knives, guns, a brown bag with Cuervo – you name it. When I was growing up, taking guns and explosives on a bus wasn’t only allowed, it was encouraged. In fact, the bus would usually make a rest stop at a combination fireworks stand and gun shop so you could load up on guns and explosives if you forgot to bring yours.

But since air travel is the new bus travel, how are you supposed to get around these days? I have an answer for you and this is the other fascinating part of the bizarro twist …

Buses are the new planes.

You know, buses are now the way to travel in style – just like planes used to be. The trip is just as fast, it’s a lot cheaper than flying and you’ve got plenty of room to stretch out since no one travels by bus anymore.   You don’t have to plan ahead, like you do if you are flying. So you can just hop on the bus out of town quickly if you want to because, say, you have a sudden impulse to visit your brother in another town or because the police have just discovered a shallow grave where you left the homeless drunk’s body.

Also, on a bus, you won’t get molested by security agents because who cares what you take on a bus. And you won’t be “randomly selected” for a security search because pretty much every passenger looks like an imminent threat.

And here’s an added benefit to riding the bus: Your bags actually go where you go rather than to Pakistan. (Note: On all flights worldwide, nearly all luggage ends up in Pakistan, the only exception being the bags of people who are flying to Pakistan.)

Also, if you take a bus and the engine conks out, you just wait patiently on the side of the road rather than plummet to your death in a giant fireball.

And, oh yeah, on a bus you never have wait 10 minutes to get in the bathroom because of two newlyweds trying to join the 8 feet high club.