Both The Worst And The Best Flight Experience EVER

I'm on a plane from Atlanta to New York. I'm on this plane because the one I was supposed to be on an hour earlier left the gate without me. It left the gate without me because I arrived 4 minutes too late to get on board. I arrived 4 minutes too late because the TSA are staffed by inept power-hungry morons who can't cut it in legitimate law enforcement and need a job where they can subject people to their ridiculously needs to be in control of situations. And steal belts.

I arrived at the airport with about an hour to spare to get on my flight. It's a simple one day trip (I hope!) so I only brought my laptop bag. For this particular trip, I have to be dressed nicely, so I'm in slacks and a tie (for the second day in a row, actually - yesterday was a funeral).

I know the routine by now, so I took off my shoes and belt. I stuck the belt in an open back pocket on my bag, along with my phone (which I forgot to charge last night and is dead) and my wallet. I put everything on the belt and went through the detectors without issue.

The guy monitoring bags through the scanner decided my bag needed extra attention and called over a particularly obnoxious asshole to do a manual search of my bag. The guy started rummaging though my bag and after about five minutes, I asked if I could help him find whatever he wax looking for. He immediately got all stalwart and said "Sir, I have to ask you to back away from the screening area." So I did, and the shouted "Okay, NOW can I help you find whatever you're looking for?"

He practically threw a narrowed-eyed stare at my head.

What followed was nothing short of ridiculous. He proceeded to question me about EVERY. SINGLE. THING. in my bag, including aspirin. I was getting fed up with his shit, but a) needed to hurry to make my flight and b) didn't want to end up like Jason Bourne in the Bourne Supremecy, receiving questions from a puffed-up fruit loop in a locked room somewhere (I've done it before - it's no fun).

By the end of it, he took 32 minutes to clear my bag, and decided to confiscate - of all things - my fucking belt. I didn't get a clear reason why either - he just said I could surrender it or exit security and ship it back to myself.

He was being a dick.

I said "Fuck it, keep it" and ran to the terminal tram. I was at gate B1, which is the last gate in a fairly large terminal (for those who don't know, ATL is HUGE). When I got off the tram, I ran - in dress shoes - to the gate. And from there, you know the rest.

I was rebooked on the 9:40 AM, and was feeling pretty frustrated and sweaty and wanted to beat someone and wished I had the power to shoot lasers from my mouth so I could kill people with my screams. Since my new seat was at the front of the plane, I knew I had a few minutes to waste. I took a short walk to get some water and generally just keep from yelling at people. I came back after getting a water and some yogurt and boarded to find a teenage brother and sister sitting on my row. The brother was screwing with an iPod, and the sister was - much to my surprise - reading a copy of my book.

I had to do a triple take, because it was just too weird. After a few minutes, I leaned over her brother in the middle seat and asked her what she was reading. She showed me the cover, and I smiled. "Ah," I said, " I read that one. How do you like it?"

She said it was pretty funny, that her brother insisted she read it after he finished it. The brother chimed in saying it was the funniest book he'd read in a long time.

"I actually know the author," I said. The boy, about 16 I'd wager, perked up. "He's a dick," I said with a grin.

He kinda frowned. "Really?" he asked. I proceeded to tell him all kinds of stuff about how awful I really was, that I treat people really horribly and added "He even interrupts people on planes who are trying to read a book."

They looked at me strangely. The boy then gave me a sly smile, indicating he got the joke. I smiled back.

"You don't really know him, do you!" he accused.

I grinned and said "Check the back cover."

Now, I was wearing a tie, NOT wearing a hat, and I've shaved my goatee and lost a little more weight since that photo was taken, so I can see why it took him a minute to put it together. Even after he did, he said "No way..."

I rolled up my left sleeve and showed him the tattoo. He pretty much flipped out.

We talked for a bit; I autographed the book and drew a pirate fighting a ninja. I was introduced to his parents an they said he was gaga over the book and insisted everyone read it. He got it with a gift card to Barnes and Noble he got for his birthday a few weeks ago. He gave me some critique on the Mentally Incontinent site, saying he only recently figured out how to find the rest of the stories (which gutted me - expect a redesign of that realllllly soon).

They're asleep right now.

Its been both the worst and best flight experience I've ever had.