Being a terrorist and flying into LAX the day of the shooting
If you wanted to tell me something about how I chose the single worst day in US history to be a terrorist and fly into LAX, thanks but I figured that out already.
Someone shot up the airport I was about to fly into.
I knew the TSA was acting a little on-edge when I left Chicago, but I didn’t know someone had just shot a bunch of people at LAX. And because the post-9-11 media is so hair-trigger with raising questions of “terrorism” at the earliest reports of anything involving an airport or bomb, internet headlines were already reading “Gunman Targets LAX, Terrorism Not Ruled Out.” Remember when guys with guns were just called homicidal maniacs? Oh, the glory days…
Let’s do the math. I had three things working against me:
- I was a convicted terrorist.
- I was flying into an airport the day of a pre-supposed terrorist attack.
- The TSA so rarely gets an opportunity to even pretend they serve their stated function, they were sure to relish in this one.
So at first, everything was mostly standard-fare leaving O’hare, with a noticeable tilt towards “extra-thorough.” Then I arrived at my layover in Salt Lake City and learned, of course, every flight into LAX was delayed indefinitely.
It’s a nice airport, one that becomes massively less-nice when you’re the only convicted terrorist in it who is flying to LAX the day of a shooting. Then it just gets weird. And the TSA did something I’ve never seen them do before.
They put a tail on me.
Now, I’ve had them follow me at my departing airport. Not often, but it’s happened. Yet never during a layover. You’ve already been screened at that point, and you’re left alone. Not today.
I noticed the two agents about 50 feet away as I looked for my connecting flight on the departures screen. Their body language told me most of what I needed to know. The rest came when I started walking, then turned around 10 minutes later and they were still behind me.
I went to my gate, expecting it might be many, many hours before LAX was cleared for incoming flights. The two TSA agents sat at the adjacent gate. Just for the extra dose of unneeded confirmation, I took an unnecessary walk to Starbucks. They followed.
My options here were to either wrap a white shirt around my head, buy a lighter, and start suspiciously taking apart my shoe at the gate; or… just go to sleep.
I chose the second one.