Thank You, But No Thank You For Your Service

 

Memorial Day is supposed to be a day of remembrance for fallen service members who have fought to serve America. Many of us take trips, have barbecues, hit the clubs, or simply lay in bed all day expecting double payment on our next paycheck, all in honor of this mournful day. Ever been to a birthday party without the birthday girl or birthday boy?  Ever swallow your favorite cuisine without even tasting the flavor? What is the point if you can’t indulge in the appreciation of it all?  “Happy” Memorial Day Everyone! But other than those who sleep well at night in a nice, comfortable bed, who goes home to a hot, refreshing meal, who can water their lawn, or walk their dogs, how can we be happy?  What is so “happy” about celebrating those slain for a country who would demoralize his/her very own existence if he/she were still alive? After service, many service members come back home expecting a warm welcome but instead receives a warm blanket and a simple “Happy Memorial Day” or “Thank you for your service.”  That’s it. Whose job is it to feed the hungry? The poor? The homeless? Let me correct that by saying, “Whose job is it to feed the hungry patriots? The poor ex-servicemen? The homeless veterans?” Many would assume that it is the job of the same ones employed to feed the rich, the American citizens.

After service, many service members go back home expecting a warm welcome but instead are greeted with a warm blanket and a simple “Happy Memorial Day” or “Thank you for your service”.  That’s it. Whose job was it to feed the hungry anyways? The poor? The homeless? Let me correct that by saying, “Whose job was it to feed the hungry patriots? The poor ex-servicemen? The homeless veterans?” Many would assume that it was the job of the same beings employed to feed the rich…you…the American citizen.

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While working overseas on a base, I have become aware of all that is going on in the world, seeing military from all over the world join forces to reach a common goal, but I also noticed that with that common goal came a different expectation.  Speaking to different service men from Spain to Belgium, to Africa, to Italy, Australia, and even America, it amazes me how their expectations differ so vastly, yet are so commonly distorted by illusions.  Most share the same ignorance, and when I say “ignorance” it is all in the act of not knowing. Most of them didn’t’ even know why they chose to join the military, other than the common cliché of an answer “to protect my country”. To pick their brain I would ask, “So why aren’t you in your country, protecting your country? Who is protecting your family in your country, as we speak? Wife and kids are home alone…do you tell them to lock the doors while you are 1,000 miles away from home?” This may not sit well with many, but let’s look at the truth being told. When at war, nobody really “knows” why they are fighting half of the time. Joining the military, to me, is like walking into a place and seeing someone you care about(America) involved in a fight, hence, triggering that protective reaction to a situation you know nothing about, other than what your loved one (your government) has told you. You don’t even know rather your “loved one” was wrong or right. There are three sides to a story, and in war, we are forced to choose one side, and at times that choice may be deadly. Therefore, sacrifices are made based on the faith that, that “loved one” would return the favor, but what happens when that favor is not returned.

Red, White, and Blue (091106-A-O0905-07)

I also realized that most of them lacked a realistic return plan. Maybe go to school? Get a job? Go back home to a happy household? Buy a home and live a nice life? Some of them actually figure it out and for those who don’t…..well…reality sets in when they do return, and the plans they thought they had turned into dreams dangling from a height way beyond their reach. Things are not as easy as was promised to them.  Money has run out and jobs, that they were qualified for in the military, won’t even compensate for experience in this new “real world”. Tell me the difference in the transitioning of someone being released from prison and someone being released from service?  We shove them into mental institutions and correctional facilities watching them fight an intangible battle against their mind and society, just to live. How can we remember the fallen over loud music and drunken banter on memorial days? Is there hope for those still standing, waiting to be heard? Appreciated? Welcomed? Thanks, but no thanks for your service, says the actions of America.

 

 

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Most Common Misconceptions About TSA

The good, old TSA (Transportation Security Administration)…others may like to refer to as “Thousands Standing Around”, “Toiletry Search Agency”, “Total Scam Artist”, “Thuggish Stupid As*holes” or any other creative or insulting acronyms one may or can seem to come up with, has definitely earned its bad rep, from drug busts, to body scanners, to thefts, to inappropriate pat downs, and etc.  However, there are common misconceptions made by the public about the Homeland Security organization. Hopefully, I can clarify some of these misconceptions, and hopefully these explanations will give further insight about the screening process and smooth out run-ins with any of these officers while traveling through American security checkpoints.

Misconception #1:  “I Was Arrested by TSA!”

I remember reading an article where a woman accused the “brutal”TSA of placing her in handcuffs for whatever reason.  It was a good story and just that…a story.  You can NOT be arrested by a TSA officer.  TSA officers at your local airport do not have arresting power, although TSA Federal Air Marshalls do but only can arrest for federal offenses. However, TSA officers do work side by side with local police officers who may place anyone under arrest who violates or who has violated state laws.

Misconception #2:  “Enjoy My Beer!”

TSA officers may NOT keep your surrendered items, so stop offering or assuming that they want or will keep your bottle of lotion, want to finish off the rest of your coke, or want to throw back shots, while on break, with your half empty bottle of vodka.  At the end of the day or as needed, contractors or custodial employees collect these disposed items. Items confiscated or surrendered belong to the U.S. federal government, therefore, non-liquid prohibited items are usually donated by the government or auctioned off as government property.  Liquids are usually not donated due to the potential liability that comes with unidentifiable liquids.

Misconception #3:  “TSA Agents Are a Bunch of Rejects”

TSA officers/agents are NOT random security guards.  TSA officers are considered federal agents. Any criminal acts against them will result in the same charges brought on by any crime against any federal officer. They are not paid eight bucks an hour.  TSA employees are salaried employees that can make up to six figures through promotions within the agency. They receive federal employee benefits such as: healthcare, vacation and sick days, 401k, TSP, and employee bonuses.  More than half of the workforce are military veterans, hold college degrees, or even worked in previous law enforcement agencies. Not everyone is qualified to be a TSA Officer.

Misconception# 4: “You Are Not as Cute as You Think You Are”

Millions of passengers fly everyday. Some are rushing to connections. Others have been traveling overseas for days. Plenty have lesser value for hygiene, and well…what I am trying to say is…that there is a lot of “funk” that accompanies the traveling public. Now, I know this whole ordeal with the “Rated R” pat downs has supposedly stripped the public of their “rights” and exposes everyone to  “sexual abuse”. However, a lot of the passengers opt out in return of a pat-down, and from the smell of things are sometimes likely to not have even utilized a bar of soap at all, and out of all the passengers needing to be physically searched, maybe one percent of those same passengers are even close to being worth an arousal or stimulation of any sort by any form of physical contact . Nine times out of 10…he/she is just not that in to you!

Misconception #5:  “Can You Hold My Flight?”

TSA might be capable of quite a few things, however, holding a plane so you can make it to your  gate because you are running late, is not one of them.  TSA will not hold a line, expedite you to the front of a line, or offer you hors d’oeuvres while you wait just because you are first class, medallion, VIP, or even TSA Pre✓.  If you are lucky enough, your airline may pave the way for these types of membership lines and preserve them at the checkpoint for you, but TSA is not entitled to cater to such privilege if passenger flow or any other security factor shows its face at any given time. Security first. Customer Service ehhh…maybe third…or fifth…better yet…last.

Misconception #6- “The Body Scanner is NOT a Metal Detector”

When going through the body scanner passengers are asked to take everything out of their pocket. Everything, in fact means just that…EVERYTHING. The machine is not only looking for metal items on one’s person. It is looking for EVERYTHING on one’s person.  A handkerchief is EVERYTHING. A passport is EVERYTHING.  Used toilet tissue for snotty noses are EVERYTHING.  The brain….is EVERYT…well…nope keep the brain in. Some passengers need that to ask for the next directions most probably won’t follow as well.

Misconception #7- “TSA is NOT CBP (Customs and Border Protection)”

   VS                     (TSA in first picture and CBP in second picture)

TSA and CBP is not to be confused. They are two different entities, looking for two different things.  The explanation is in the names itself. Transportation Security Administration is used to secure public transportation by identifying and locating anyone or anything that can or may be a threat to the safety of the traveling public, government property, and/or aviation/commercial property.  CBP is used to protect American borders from any illegal persons or contraband from crossing U.S. borders. It is highly plausible that you may encounter both entities during one screening process, especially when flying overseas. It may seem like going through security twice or even three times, and technically may be so, but it is all for the sole purpose of two different agendas.

Misconception #8: “I Didn’t Have to Do This In Paris”

Passengers often get offended when security rules change, but what is security if it remains consistent?  Consistency is vulnerability. For example: because if know when you are going to move, how you are going to move, when you are going to move, and where you are moving to,  I can use that to my advantage.  It is called “dry running”, basically testing out a system to see what one can get away with, because the expectations will be the same every time. Therefore, risks can be assessed and calculated in order to push a successful attack or illegal activity.

Also, different countries call for different security measures. Security procedures are created based on security threats and risks.  If you didn’t have to take your shoes off in Paris, does not mean you won’t have to take them off in Lagos. There are some airports where you have to go through at least four checkpoints before even reaching your gate, others have one. It is not something for everyone to understand, but there is logic behind it.

Misconception #9:  “TSA Broke My Bag”

TSA is more so, less likely to break your bag, than the actual airline ramp employees. Your bag may make it all the way to the airplane without even being opened by TSA.  If anything, TSA may pop open your bag if you have a lock on it that is not TSA approved. If TSA have to check your bag and it is locked, they will usually go for the zipper if they can’t find a master-key to open it. If there are no zippers, well…then yes, all measures will be used to open that bag. So, did TSA break your bag? Technically, you did for not following TSA approved policies on securing your bag.

Keep these things in mind when traveling and going through your next screening process. Understanding how things works may make your traveling experience a lot less stressful.  Be safe and happy travels to you.

 

 

 

 

Why Men Shouldn’t Wear RompHims

I normally wouldn’t do this,  hence my agenda is to blog only about travel,  however,  this new trend warrants my attention and my need to save the male species that may choose to travel in such attire.  Social media has blasted this new fad of the “RompHim”.  May this article serve as a disclosure to all who may consider engaging in such a “fashionable” mishap.

  1. You Can’t Play Basketball with flat balls!

Rompers are usually shorter in length and tighter than a normal pair of summer shorts, and they fit in between areas of creases that form the contour of your body.  See…us women have the perfect anatomy to accommodate such creases due to the fact that our anatomy is internal as oppose to external.  Due to the outfit being a one piece,  there is very little room for shifting or shaking things into place (if you know what I mean), and even then, at times it may still be uncomfortable for your female counterpart. Think about that.

2.  Can We Change Your Diaper?

Plane and simple.  They make you look like giant babies, especially, if you are in shape, and that shape is…well…round.

If you are built and muscular, the romper seems to give off the illusion of curves, so be careful.

“Slim Jims” may be the only ones who may be the closest to even being fit to man a romper.  

3.  Stop Stalling and Do It!

After hours of social sipping and chatting it up with badies, an interruption may call for a timeout to release. Well,  you walk into the restroom,  occupied by your male peers who are contemplating the next fish they want to fry. You proceed to whip “it” out and realize that the rompHim doesn’t open at the waistband. Now you have one of three options:  1) surely, get some privacy in the stall (if there is one), 2) take a chance and aim, and if you are not so lucky, blame the leak on a spilled drink, but don’t stay too long at the party thereafter, because you now smell like a walking lavatory, or 3) simply bare it all for the man world to see. After all, they should understand.

4. Leg Day!

If you have skipped leg day all winter, wait it out this summer and try again next year.  You can’t be all cocked diesel on top and look like you have been in a wheelchair all of your life and think you can get away with it.  You want to make sure your legs don’t look like they were donated to you by a selfless, “green” woman who never bothered to tan or shave in order to preserve earth’s natural resources.  Better yet, leave those legs for the chickens raised in barns (hidden).

It is not too late to reconsider, but don’t say you wasn’t warned.  If you can jump through all of these loops mentioned above and maintain your dignity,  may the forces be with you.  I’m signing out in support of #teamrompHER !

 

 

6 Uncontrollable Occurrences That May Ruin Your First Travel Experience Overseas, Are You Ready?

  1. Is That DNA You’re Wearing?

When traveling through airports in different countries, you will notice the immediate change in cultural dynamics. Well…personal space is probably one of them! It simply  does not exist in some cases.  Rather you are patiently waiting to board a flight to a country full of luxurious, extravagant sites to see, or rather you are dashing through a self-amazed race competing with time on a quest to feed the hungry, you will surely notice that something as simple as space shall NOT be sacrificed!  Hopping on a shuttle or train to transfer to a terminal/gate? I hope you brought a respirator. Waiting in line to board the plane? What line? Just pick a spot and fill it, even if it’s on the top of someone’s head.  In America, more so northwestern countries, we are spoiled with space, structure, organization and time, to whereas countries on the opposite side of the globe are just that:  opposite.  If you are accustomed to being spoiled with an imaginary bubble, one thing you will learn to do when traveling on the other side is to brace yourself for that burst in your bubble.

 

2.  Pack a Space Suit, We’re Going Swimming in Germs!

Not enough Lysol, or not enough sanitizer can save you from the coils of bacteria, as they exfoliate into the cells of your skin. Let’s just pray that you have an army of white cells that will claim victory against plenty of coughs, sneezes, or vomit that may just need a place to chill for a few days. Its seems like people actually wait to share this “special gift”, by waiting around for the best time to give coughs and sneezes that just so happens to be when everyone has boarded the plane, strapped down into his/her seat belt, and is at that final stage of sleep, as sleep creeps its way onto the aircraft.  Stock up on some immunity boosters before your trip and thank me later.

3.  Fast, fast!

Measure your flight time to your food intake.  Make sure to release those bowels and rid your stomach of any snacks, coffees/teas, breakfast, lunches, or dinners that will send you running for the bathroom later on. Oh, and remember, there will most likely be two to four bathrooms that you will have to share with everyone else on the plane.  Nine times out of ten, you won’t be able to make a clean getaway if you end up writing your name on the bathroom wall with last night’s dairy snacks.  There will be witnesses that await you on the other side of that potty wall that you will have to face after your damage has been done!

4. BOB! Bring-Your-Own-Bathroom!

Nothing is worse than literally having to break dance, pop-n-lock, and tap dance just to keep from watering your ankles. Nothing is worse than not being able to plan for what lies behind door number “Noooooooo!” Well, maybe because you just walked into the middle of a crime scene, a war zone, or just simply a bathroom.  Those yoga classes may come in handy when having to hoover over holes, or practice sumo squats to spray yourself clean, while balancing your oversized carry-on on your forehead.  Plenty of wipes and a roll of toilet paper will go a long way.

5.  Run! You’re Late?

You better not miss a flight, especially when traveling overseas with a connection.  I hope you packed light this time and have your track shoes ready, because if you miss a flight there is a slight chance that your return flight may be cancelled as well, and there is nothing fun about flushing a round trip ticket in one of those hole-in-the-ground toilets.  Some airlines have very strict rules to abide by, especially if:  you bought your ticket through a third-party agency, bought a discounted ticket, or purchased your ticket at a nonrefundable rate.  Being a victim myself, I missed my first flight and “lucky me”, that was the only flight for that day with that airline.  I had to buy another ticket with another airline to get to where I had to go, to only later find out, a couple days before my return, that my departure flight was cancelled due to my “no show” for the first flight.  Things happen, but do everything in your will to make that flight.

6.  Lost Identity.

You are not going anywhere without your passport. Yes, after being an airport employee for many years, I can honestly say that quite a number of passports have been lost and found at the airport. People leave them at screening locations, bathrooms, gates, restaurant counters, and just about anywhere in the airport that you can think of. There are times when they are even stolen. If you have lost your passport, get ready for the hell of your life, from missing flights, to back tracking your steps, to risking identity theft, or even being stuck in a country trying to figure out a way to make it  back home safely.  Don’t do it! Staple your passport to your chest if you have to!    

If you can accept that mishaps like this may or can likely occur congratulations!  You have such an open mind, and you are ready to travel the world.  Things will happen  that will put you out of your comfort zone, but once you surpass all of the havoc and/or cultural shock waves that you had to endear while traveling, the experience itself will make up for it, and sooner or later you will learn to accommodate ways to limit such irregularities from discouraging another travel experience.