The Homeland Security Department and Transportation Security Agency on Friday held a joint press conference to announce that they have discovered a terrorist plot to start a pandemic of athelete's foot through airport hubs, in particular at the security lines.
Athlete's foot is caused by a parasitic fungus and is usually spread in moist environments where people walk barefoot such as showers and locker rooms.
Since shoe bomber Richard Reid tried to bring down a commercial flight on Dec. 22, 2001 by lighting explosives hidden in his shoes, it has been standard policy at U.S. airports to require passengers to remove their shoes and place them on the conveyor belt to be X-rayed.
During summer months especially, TSA estimated that between one third and a half of travelers wore flip flops, Crocs, or another type of shoe wear that obviated the need for socks.
The terrorist plot included having people with athlete's foot walk barefoot through security lines while discreetly sprinkling the floor with liquid to create a more moist, fungal environment.
In order to avert the spread of athlete's foot, which is typically not life threatening but causes extreme itchiness, TSA announced that it will forbid people from passing through security if they are not wearing socks. They also will be sprinkling baby and talcum powder in the security line in the event that people attempt to walk through with bare feet.
Enterprising merchants have sprung up to take advantage of a potentially lucrative commercial opportunity. Hudson News stores in the New York airports were stocked with overpriced socks an hour after the press conference -- $10 for simple white tube socks, $15 for athletic socks and $20 for 100 percent cotton ones.
Not everyone appreciates the new security rule. "If someone is stupid enough to walk through the line barefoot they deserve to get athlete's foot," groused Greg McIntyre," of Cleveland, Ohio. "Now it's just gonna take twice as long since more people are going to be wearing shoes with laces."