Since 9-11 (as the Americans call it) we all know – unless we are idiots – that airport security is a Serious Thing that we all need to take SERIOUSLY.
Yesterday, as I queued and queued at Stansted airport, the security guys kept calling out : “no liquids over 100 ml ! If you have liquids over 100 ml you need to throw them away NOW. They will not be allowed through. If under 100ml they need to be in a see-thru re-sealable plastic bag! These things cause delays. Searching your belongings causes delays. People will miss their flights …” over and over again.
On top of this there were signs with absolutely clear pictures. Lots of them. There were announcements over the loudspeaker systems in several languages ….. and yet, one after another, people and their belongings got searched because such a terrifying percentage of the public just do not take airport security seriously.
Think about it.
In front of me was an oriental-looking gentleman who just would not accept that there was a possibility that his shoes contained explosives. The song and dance he created just because he had to take his shoes off (I expect his socks were dirty) was ridiculous – child-like. He was then searched – more objections. He was told to remove his belt. Objections again. His bags were emptied – yet more objections – and out came shampoo over 100ml and after-shave, both of which got binned. Fury. He started shouting that the security people were wasting everybody’s time. No, I told him (being the shrinking violet that I am) YOU, sir, are wasting everybody’s time.
He eventually got marched away by airport officials, mostly because he was so aggressive and foul-mouthed, rather than because of any real suspicion of dastardly deeds afoot.
But then, as luck would have it – the girl behind me, a French demoiselle, had a bathroom bag full of shampoos and wotnot. She wailed as her things were binned. More time wasted. She said she didn’t understand English. But, quoth I (being the shrinking violet that I am) English is the international language and if you don’t speak it, it is high time you learnt it AND the announcements were in French and anybody but a total fool can understand the signs.
What is the matter with people ? Do they imagine that somebody somewhere thought “oooh, goodie, I’ll make a rule whereby people get searched if they have their hair up in a bun” (I have been asked to let my hair down on more than one occasion and I don’t mind a bit, double-entendre unintentional) or perhaps they say to themselves “today, I think we can search people with metal on them, that’ll be fun”, or even “yippee ! let’s decide lipstick could be a bomb!”
THINK. There is a reason for this. A good reason. These are people working hard for our security. They are doing the best they can. They are trying to ferret-out (and they frequently succeed) the Undesirables of society. It is not for us to add to the security burden by not listening, not obeying, not cooperating, and then topping it all with sweeping judgements on a subject about which most of us understand very little. Just as you and I consider ourselves to be experts in our own jobs, and we expect respect and recognition for it, let us respect and recognize the importance of airport security.
Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist. She is widely travelled and writes regularly for magazines and blog sites. Her sketches are on her web site http://www.turquoisemoon.co.uk . Her books are available from Amazon and on Kindle, or can be ordered from several leading book stores.