Friday, August 14, 2009

Google Cubes

Just got back from a business trip. Won't bore you with the details except to recount some of the highlights and--ahem, interesting folks I met along the way:

1. TSA Screeners: The last time I flew, the liquid limitations and shoe inspection hadn't been in force (which gives you an inkling of how freaking long it's been...), so I was dreading the whole TSA process. I also hadn't been diagnosed with diabetes and was worried about what issues I might have transporting insulin and needles.

Turns out I had every reason to be concerned. The TSA screeners were completely horrible. Snapping at anyone who was confused or who made the egregious error of putting a laptop case in a plastic bin (Quelle horreur!), I decided "TSA" stood for "Totally Sucky Attitude."

The morons insisted on me subjecting my insulin to x-ray, despite my request for a visual inspection. They insisted those were the rules and if I didn't put my insulin through the x-ray, I would not be able to board the plane. Two supervisors adamantly assured me that I had no recourse other to not fly. Not surprisingly, they were wrong. TSA Guidelines explicitly state:

"Medication and related supplies are normally X-rayed. However, as a customer service, TSA now allows you the option of requesting a visual inspection of your medication and associated supplies.

  • You must request a visual inspection before the screening process begins; otherwise your medications and supplies will undergo X-ray inspection.
  • If you would like to take advantage of this option, please have your medication and associated supplies separated from your other property in a separate pouch/bag when you approach the Security Officer at the walk-through metal detector.
  • Request the visual inspection and hand your medication pouch/bag to the Security Officer.
  • In order to prevent contamination or damage to medication and associated supplies and/or fragile medical materials, you will be asked at the security checkpoint to display, handle, and repack your own medication and associated supplies during the visual inspection process.
  • Any medication and/or associated supplies that cannot be cleared visually must be submitted for X-ray screening. If you refuse, you will not be permitted to carry your medications and related supplies into the sterile area."
Well, well--imagine that! The TSA workers don't even know their own rules.

Quelle surprise!

2. My San Jose flight seatmates: An older British couple. The man was seated in the middle seat and his long limbs kept creeping into my seat space. After rubbing elbows for several minutes, he finally placed his hands in his lap. He was reading some sort of legal document, but my surreptitious glances couldn't figure out what it was. His very proper wife was talking about one woman, who "had a good head on her shoulders" and another woman of whom she said, "She's a bitch. I'd like to put a hit out on her."

Unfortunately he decided to take a nap so she stopped talking after that. Too bad--the conversation was getting interesting.

3. The Google Party: This was a fairly small affair, but totally awesome. Open bar, lots of yummy food (including SUSHI!) and signature drinks that were adorned with LED ice cubes (see pic above). I collected a set (actually I had only three drinks, but snatched the fourth from an unsuspecting coworker).

4. Meeting up with David and Crystal: My brother and his fiancee drove down from San Francisco to have dinner with me on Wednesday night. It was great to see them.

5. The automated itinerary system on Southwest: Just as we were about to cut our post-conference happy hour short and get our asses in gear for the airport, I get an automated message from Southwest on my cellphone alerting me to the fact our flight had been delayed by an hour. Making lemonade out of lemons, we had another drink--or two.

6. My seatmate on the flight back to L.A.: As I took the empty aisle seat next to a young woman, she turned and held out her hand and said something. Initially, I thought she was telling me she was holding the seat for someone, but it turned out she was introducing herself. Unusual, but a nice change from most airline interactions. After I sat down and settled in, she pulled a barf bag from the seat pocket and laid in down on the seat between us. Looking at me she patted it saying, "Just in case. I had a little bit too much to drink."


Fortunately Tiffany did not lose her lunch (or dinner) during the flight. At least not in close proximity to me. She did excuse herself while the flight attendant was taking drink orders to use the bathroom. Perhaps she had the good grace to confine her vomiting to the lavatory.

7. My shuttle mates on the ride home: Why I didn't just take a cab, I don't know. It was 10 pm when we landed. I could just expense it to the company. I wasn't worried about economizing with the cab ride to the airport or the shuttle from the airport to the hotel. Instead, I turned what should have been a 20 minute cab ride into an hour long ordeal. First there was hippy dippy trippy lady, who hummed and warbled along to the music on her iPod along with snapping her fingers. Then there was annoying Amazon woman, who tripped getting into the van because she was too busy talking on her cell phone to watch where she was going.

I suffered while hippy dippy trippy hummed and snapped and the annoying Amazon continued to chat on her cell. Fortunately the other two riders were quiet like me. The good news is that annoying Amazon and hippy dippy trippy were the first two riders to get dropped off. The bad news is that I was second to last. Note to self: If someone else will be footing the bill, take a damn cab!

So that's my story. Not surprisingly there are annoying morons wherever you go. Might as well just stay home...


  1. You should definitely complain about how the TSA handled your medication. Maybe call or write your congressman, too.

  2. They have an online complaint form which I filled out. I'm not expecting much. This is a government agency after all...