Oct 23, 2017 by


Two things had just happened:

  • The kiosk printed a boarding pass (I’m banned from getting a boarding pass anywhere but the desk).
  • It said “Pre-check” in the corner.

I wish I could enjoy random acts of good fortune. Instead, I’m so married to my conspiratorial paradigm I just assume anything that happens is a set up for some grand punchline – a camera crew sits just out of sight, while I’m celebrating someone is slipping a kilo into my carry on, or there’s a big net waiting for me at gate D4.

This was the same dilemma faced when Rollin’s road crew slipped my friend and I passes that read “All Access.” Play it safe, take our seats in the 12th row, and not not attract attention? Or approach security and ask what level of access our passes granted us, potentially getting us everywhere while putting a spotlight on our outsider (and possibly our gatecrasher) status?

On one hand, “Pre-check” is fairly unambiguous. On the other, as a terrorist, virtually any other interpretation was more likely than the literal one.

I decided to play the middle: Not storm the pre-check gates with an entitled strut. Not resume my place on the terrorist totem pole and default to the plebeian line. Just “trust, but verify.”

I approached the Pre-Check velvet ropes.

“Am in the right place?” I asked, holding up my boarding pass.

She looked at my boarding pass with a squint.

“Yes sir.”

I haven’t been called “sir” at an airport in a non-condescending tone since pre-Facebook IPO. This was awesome.

And just like that: I rode down the Gilded Carpet to Victory with great ease (and, I might add, deference from any and all in my path). I came out the other side certain I displayed every physical tell of a Lifer told “pack your things, you’re going home” How do you play it cool in plain sight when you know you’re just the beneficiary of a massive paperwork error?

Don’t walk too fast, don’t walk too slow, and stare down at your phone.

Dear America, freedom comes with a price. And today, what you gained in liberty for one you paid for in safety for all.

Because there was an unscreened terrorist on your plane. And he wore not a turban, but a giant “I got away with it” grin.

God the TSA is stupid.

Endnote: I left out one big thing

Ok so, I omitted one giant detail. I wasn’t entirely without one solid theory as to why this happened.

This flight had been my first attempt at a bold experiment: What would happen if I changed my name by one letter? In the eyes of the TSA’s flawed database, would I effectively be reborn? asked for my name at checkout, and I gave it to them: “Pete Young.”

And there I was, from terrorist to Transcendence in one letter.

One character difference, yet all the difference in the world.

There might be a future in this…


-Jetsetting Terrorist

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