The Personal Blog of Stephen Sekula

Getting to Soudan

Our trip to Soudan began in San Francisco, hours after the TSA changed the carry-on rules for domestic and international flights. The arrest of 21 (now 24) suspects in and around London, England ignited a knee-jerk blanket ban on all liquids and gels on flights. People who didn’t wake up to NPR like me and Jodi arrived at the airport and had two choices: stow all such items in checked luggage or throw out every last one of them.

The butterfly of arrested terrorism suspects flapped its wings in England, and we felt the hurricane in the U.S. The lines to get through security “stretched across all three terminals of SFO, spanning about 1/2 mile in total”: As we moved back into Terminal 1, where Northwest flights depart, we “passed small piles of beverage and toiletry containers lying about where no disposal containers were available”:
What was particularly shocking about this was the number of alcoholic beverages we saw on the floor. I’m not talking about cases of fine California wine, now unable to make their way to distant dinner tables. I’m talking about single cans of Budweiser or a tall-boy of MGD, the kind of thing a person would only carry if they intended to consume it personally. And this was at 7:30 in the morning! I think that this was the most shocking part of this whole affair: a brief peeling back of the thin veneer over acceptable behavior in our society, a realization that in all of the hundreds of people in line there were a few hardcore alcoholics who couldn’t make it through one morning flight without a beer.

Our arrival in Minnesota was only delayed an hour, as our plane waited for all passengers to get through security. As Jodi and I made our way north from St. Paul to Soudan, we passed “a gas station designed by Frank Lloyd Wright”: Jodi’s not a big fan of the guy, and I have to say that this is one bored architect to have designed a gas station in Minnesota.