Do I Look Like Terrorist? No, Wait, Don't Answer That

I was business travelling in Indianapolis a few weeks ago (yes, my job is that glamorous) and I was 'taken aside' for 'inspection'. Living overseas the last few years and returning back to Canada about once a year, I've seen air travel change in slow-motion. I left Canada in October 2001 and arrived three hours early, as instructed, to Pearson Airport only to be waved through and spent 2 and a half hours drinking $6.00 cups of coffee. I watched airline security change from afar -- a news story about a terrorist who tried to carry a bomb in his shoe and the next time I come back I have to take my shoes off to walk through the metal detector. Terrorists try to use liquids to blow up the plane so know you can't bring toothpaste in your carry-on.

This is the times we live in, I think to myself when I fly now, automatically removing my shoes, my belt, my i-pod, my wallet, my keys, my change, my dignity. The insidious part is that we have to put up with it with our mouths closed, for the slightest frustrated eye-roll or stern word and you're taken off to a back room for 'inspection' though one could replaced that word with 're-education'.

With the slow decline the quality of air travel (remember the time when people used to dress up to fly? No, I don't either, since it was generations ago. But I do remember when the airlines gave you food on the plane. Of course, it was terrible, inedible food, but at least it was something. Now you're lucky to get a flight attendant to spit in a cup and call it water) and the increasing security measures, it's not too far off when we will have to be stripped down and hosed off before filing onto the plane, where there will be no seats just handloops and treads on the floor for our feet.

Perhaps the worst part of this is the lingering question if it's really keeping us safe. To me it seems most security measures at airports are reactive, not proactive, and no doubt terrorists are working on schemes that have yet to be imagined by airport security.

Back to my Indianapolis story. I had to walk through some kind of spectrograph that shot air at me. Next my belongings were wiped and scanned by a friendly airport security guard and I was passing with flying colours until the very end, when she swiped my cell phone charger. The alarm goes off and another security guard, this one with a badge, comes over and asks me if I work with chemicals. No, I say. Have you been on a farm recently with this item? No, I say. The first security guard re-Xrays my cellphone charger and while she's doing that I ask the guard if I can know what was found on my cellphone charger.

"Amino nitrate and fuel, which is what Timothy McVeigh combined with fertilizer to blow up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City."

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