I've been reading with interest and growing horror the whole TSA backscatter X-ray machine thing and its evil twin sister, the opt-out groping pat down. The spate of reports emerging from people who are abused by the TSA for dissenting--and worse, not even dissenting, just opting-out, is disturbing. There are stories of people being arrested, being harassed for asking questions, and being detained. Stories of people being groped. Stories of threats and lawsuits and fines if we don't submit to it.
I'll just say here: I'm pregnant and I don't believe that the full scan machines are safe for my unborn baby. Nor do I feel they're safe for my son, who is four. I don't have a problem being patted down, but my son isn't going to be touched in his groin by strangers. (Note that the TSA has said that children under 12 don't have to submit to this; I heard this on NPR and a spokesperson from the TSA admitted they had "not communicated this to the public very well." WHATEVS.) My OB agrees that the backscatter Xray machine is a no-go for me, which says a lot.
So I'm watching and waiting, and we have chosen not to fly until a solution is found that doesn't involve being groped or put in harm's way. I believe that solution will come, because most people flying today know flying security is now a part of our lives thanks to September 11, but that we won't stand for being groped or harassed or subjected to harmful x-rays. I'm a veteran flier, and maybe it's real easy for me to say I won't fly because I don't have much cause to right now and also because I have a baby coming that will allow me to stay grounded for some time. But come next October, I'm probably going to have to fly for work. And what if something horrid happens to a family member far away? What, am I going to drive across the country?
The world has really changed, hasn't it?
As writers, there's no way to predict what will change. Reading stories with airport travel the old way (no security, no hassle) is quaint now. Likewise, if stories don't mention air travel security (instead, something like "I breezed through to the gate from the ticket counter and boarded the plane. I plopped down in my seat and put my head back, ready to snooze the journey away.") then I'm sitting there going, Yeah, right. It's unpleasant from start to finish.
This is a minor point, but I always find it amusing when I read stories that feature some aspect of air travel and it's all peachy. I find airport security and other flying malarkey like cattle-call lines, the failure to feed or entertain me on long flights, and the unsettling fact that there are no airbags on the flight because airlines don't want to spend room or money putting them in, even though they've been shown to save lives, too unpleasant to even think about. So I don't like to spend time mentioning those details in my stories.
Thoughts? What else dates a story, and how do you feel about using modern references that could reflect our culture's point in time?
Note: after I published this post I found the picture of the above toy set with security--thinking they didn't make any such thing. Scary. That's a Playmobil set, though, not Fisherprice Playskool.
P.S. I am super sorry if you are taking off to go fly somewhere for Thanksgiving.
P.P.S. Happy Thanksgiving, loverlies!