Today on Alphabet City: An airport security snafu causes JP to reconsider his Kindle love-hate relationship.
The TSA agent working the early morning shift at LGA scowled at the monitor of the x-ray belt as my backpack passed through. In a flash, I ran through my standard preparation—emptied out my refillable water container, placed my liquids in a baggie, and put my laptop in a separate bin. The agent shouted at me across the equipment.
“Sir, is that a Kindle in your bag?”
Great, I knew what was coming next. The question that fellow subway riders always seem to pester me with, “Do you love it?” Because I harbor conflicting feelings about the technology, I don’t have a very good response to that question. And why would the agent be making small talk when there’s a line of folks behind me? Turns out, he wasn’t being chatty catchy.
“Sir, next time, the Kindle needs to go in its own bin. We are treating them like laptops now.”
Great, now that terrorists are evidently going to be using e-books as weapons, I’ve got one more thing to worry about at security checkpoints. And frankly, I’m not sure it’s worth it.
The problem is that I’ve got my security routine down pat—I’m like a figure skater landing a triple axle. First, I stack 2 grimy gray bins—bottom with computer, top with coat/sweater and bagged liquids. Next, I use my small carry-on placed on the belt to push the trays down the line. And in one last deft move, just moments before everything disappears into the x-ray abyss, I slip off my shoes and place my backpack on the belt. Honestly, it’s such a complicated juggling act that I just don’t see how I could possibly add another element dedicated to the Kindle.
Sorry, Kindle enthusiasts, I don’t love the little e-book device that much. I’ve had it for about a year now thanks to Angela who dragged me into the modern era on my 40th birthday. Don’t get me wrong—there are things I really enjoy about it: the ability to instant purchase a book I’d forgotten to secure before vacation (e.g. Andre Agassi’s Open); and, the option to read my copy of The New Yorker electronically because it’s the only Condé Nast publication that can’t seem to find it’s way to my home in Washington Heights.
But then there are the Kindle quirks that I can’t stand. Flight attendants have started making me turn it off during interminable runway delays—it evidently counts as an electronic device that interferes with the aircraft. Which means I’ve got to make sure that in addition to the Kindle I have some regular reading material—like a hard copy of that lost New Yorker. See the problem?
Then there’s the over-heralded ability to “share” your library with others in your household. I’m not sure Angela is all that interested in my Broadway Queen tell-alls like Arthur Laurents’ Mainly on Directing: Gypsy, West Side Story and Other Musicals or my heavy duty therapy books like Alice Miller’s The Drama of the Gifted Child. Personally, I have no interest in her sTORI Telling or Twilight. Although bless her for downloading Kathy Griffin’s memoir Official Book Club selection which I devoured in Mexico.
After a couple of days in Kansas City, I headed back to LGA, nervous about how I would do with effecting proper Kindle handling procedures at security. I was happy to be in a friendly, low-key Midwestern airport rather than the high-pressure Big Apple hubs.
Then, with a little encouragement from Susan, I decided to test the system. I left the Kindle in my backpack to see what happened. My normal line-up of bags and trays disappeared into the machine and came out the other side with flying colors. I waited for some kind of comment from the official, but there was no lecture about proper e-book handling procedures.
I guess the TSA is conflicted about the Kindle. Join the club.