TSA – the Most Hated Part of Freedom to Travel

Land of the free and home of the brave feels more like land of the hassled and home of the knave if you travel anywhere in the United states by air.

Meanwhile, we all have stories of confiscated bottles of water (even a sealed can of tonic water), cosmetics, nail files, cuticle scissors, shampoo, shaving cream, hairspray and so forth. This blog isn’t long enough to list everything we millions of US fliers have lost. (Ironically, right after 9/11, a TV news report ran a segment on how to slit someone’s throat with a credit card or the seat pocket safety card. I can see how it would be problematic for airlines to prevent carrying credit cards, so that notion gets no press!)

I don’t even like to stand barefoot in a public place like an airport security line!

Krystian Zimerman in 2004. Photo by S. L. Judd

Krystian Zimerman in 2004. Photo by S. L. Judd

The worst case of confiscation I’ve heard of came through on National Public Radio this week; although, it occurred shortly after 9/11/2001. Krystian Zimerman, the great Polish concert pianist, always took his own Steinway grand piano with him for concerts. It was confiscated by customs officials at New York’s JFK airport, who thought the glue smelled funny. Ostensibly, like bomb-making materials.

They destroyed the $200,000 instrument.

Zimerman continued to travel and give concerts (a better person than I!), transporting only the mechanical insides of his piano and installing them in a local Steinway shell. In 2006, he tried again to travel with his whole piano, only to have it held up in customs for five days, thus disrupting his concert schedule.

What can one even say about this ignominy?

But do you feel safer?

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