Saturday, July 19, 2008

I never thought that I would consider joining the Civil Libertarian Party as I thought their mantra about Americans losing their freedoms was a bit over the top. However, after dining at the Macaroni Grill inside of Orlando International airport last night, I may become a card carrying Civil Libertarian. In all of my 65 years, this dining experience was the first as a citizen within a Police State, perhaps not unlike Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Russia. Because of my new found fear of reprisals by the Gestapo, I am now forced to use an alias. Don't want to be placed on the airports Watch List!

Simply put, my wife and I, while awaiting a flight arrival, decided to have dinner at the Macaroni Grill which I believe is managed by HMS Host. When we were seated the waitress asked us for our drink order to which we replied "two glasses of wine". In her very soft Russian accent she asked us for identification. I thought at first she was paying me complement at how young I looked for 65 years of age. No, she wasn't kidding.

She said it was policy to ID anyone wanting a drink. However, no ID is necessary if you want only food. My wife, several years younger, and being a proper Brit reluctantly produced her ID so as not to cause a commotion. I refused. The waitress then returned with only one glass of wine. I asked to speak to the manager, who promptly came to our table and inquired as why I wanted to speak to him. I asked about the need to produce ID in order to have a which he confirmed it was airport policy. He could not give me an explanation as to the basis for this policy other than repeating that " is the airport policy", and off he went.

Anyway, off marches the manager, or should I say goose steps away. My wife offers me a sip of her wine and she orders another. As we await our first course I get that uncanny feeling we are being watched! I confirmed my suspicions....a large man with crossed arms was staring at me from a distance....I figure he is the wine police and to test that theory I took my wife’s wine glass and make an obvious toast to being an American. Oh, Oh, here he comes! He grabs the wine away from us without a word being spoken, and marches off.

The social embarrassment notwithstanding, my wife and I decided to leave, and approached the wine policeman and asked if there was a bill to pay as we were leaving. He responded with a "No", to which I stated that I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t a bill. I didn't want him to call the authorities on us for theft of services. I asked for his name and he proudly responded with "...I'll give you my card". Amazing country of ours....his name is Mr. Moukaddam, HMS Host- Store Manager.

Well Mr. Moukaddam, thanks for the brief visit to the land of your fore fathers, or perhaps I need a reality check...was I in America? Oh, another reason for using an alias....I don't want to be the subject of a Fatwa.

Since when does Macaroni Grill and HMS Host make rules that infringe on American rights of privacy and freedom? Thank God (yes, I said GOD) the Supreme Court recently upheld the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. You never know! Just when you think it’s safe to cross the street someone may stop you and ask “…your papers, please.”