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Retired Info Tech Project Manager. Born in the British Empire. Educated in Physics. Worked inn Information Technology. Interests - Writing, Theater, Bicycling, Rowing.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Clear Out!

"Two of Washington's airports -- Dulles and Reagan National -- will soon be part of the federal government's Registered Traveler program, which offers passengers the happy prospect of getting through security lines faster, swifter, better. (Ninety thousand of them and counting have enrolled.) All you need do is pay an annual fee -- $100 to start, plus a $28 shakedown so the government can make sure you're, you know, okay. Next you submit all sorts of personal information, fingerprints and, because the future is now, an eyeball scan.
Then you are all clear. " Washington Post, January 27, 2008.

Hank Stuever, a Washington Post Staff Writer, goes on to describe the people who sign up for the Clear Card. He labels them "Clears" and pokes fun at their un-American approach to saving time by paying an extra fee.

Hank Stuever sounds like a Gunk. That's the opposite of Clear -- the people who don't know where they are going, or how they are going to get there and, in their hesitant, stumbling, bumbling way, gunk up the works for those trapped behind them.

Clears may not be any safer than the Gunks; after all, Holesome Security has made sure our security is riddled with holes -- like omitting the scanning of most checked luggage. Clears may end up saving only a minute amount of time - compared to the hours they (along with everyone else) are forced to waste by a laissez faire air traffic system that imposes little or no accountability on the airlines. But, believe me, most Clears would gladly pay a $100 and fill out personal information on an application to get a Clear card that lets them skip ahead of at least a few of the maddening and saddening multitude of Gunks who seem to infect daily life in ever increasing numbers.

Before you take issue with me, ask yourself honestly -- aren't you just a little more Clear than you admit? It is all very well to scoff at "un-American" Lexus Lanes; but remember, Fat Cats and Robber Barons are as American as Apple Pie (gourmet variety), Chevrolet (Corvette) and Baseball (seen from the luxury suite). Not that you need to be a particularly obese feline to fork over a mere $100 for a Clear card...

How do you feel when you are in a hurry but stuck behind a Gunk in a line -- any line, grocery line, bank line, whatever -- and see precious seconds slipping away while the Gunk conducts an archaeological expedition in her purse for an ID / credit card / coupon? How do you like the Gunk in front of you drive up to the ATM, find that the car was too close to or too far from the ATM, then back up, drive over again, roll down the window, realize that the distance is still wrong, open the door and lean out precariously to insert the ATM card -- first in the wrong slot, then in the correct slot which is clearly labeled to begin with, start signing checks, interrupt that to talk on the cell phone, fumble with the deposit tube, make another cell phone call, fumble with the deposit tube again, audit the printed receipts and the change with a thoroughness that would put the IRS to shame, close the door, roll up the window, adjust her lipstick and then finally move out of the way?

Have you ever had to drive in slow motion behind a Gunk who could not decide which lane to take, or turned in the exact opposite direction to that indicated by the turn signal of his car, or waited at the intersection long past the point when the light changed to green -- in order to complete a higher priority conversation to a companion or over the cell phone?

Have you had to wait in a grocery line behind a Gunk who counts her change, puts away her receipt and coupons and re balances her grocery cart with more deliberation than you spend in re balancing your portfolio, all while blocking the narrow space where you need to wheel in your own cart to allow the checker to load your two bags on your cart so you can get home before the second half of the game starts?

Clearly, Gunks are evidence of Special Creation. It is hard to believe that Natural Selection, if it was the rule, would not have brought about their extinction long ago.

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