01 May 2008

Ever felt like this?

Great piece by Garrison Keillor on Salon.com about the perils of passing through modern airport security (with some asides on other matters).

While he's perhaps best known for his folksy style Keillor often writes with a pithy acerbity which adds bite to his trenchant comments. Example:

[W]hen I went through airport security in Minneapolis on Monday, it was an object lesson in something -- a line of a hundred people twisted around in the cattle chute, 16 men and women in the white TSA shirts with the epaulets, an obese young woman shouting at us to take our laptop computers out of our cases in a voice she learned from a prison camp movie; one metal detector in operation, two closed, and the guardian of this narrow gate was a man who carefully read each boarding pass as if proofreading it for misspellings, though it had already been checked by his colleague at the head of the line.

The line inched along, four supervisors stood watching blankly, the fat lady barked, the gentleman operating the scanner was very jittery about shaving kits and computer batteries and needed to have every other bag checked, and in the lifetime it took to go through, you started to sympathize with all the Republicans who've complained about government inefficiency over the years, except it is a Republican administration that runs this operation, but never mind. Details, details.

I wanted to tell the shirts not to treat us with such extravagant contempt, but you should be careful about mouthing off to people who have the power to detain you and order a body search.

And also it seemed to me that I was the only one in line who was grinding my teeth. Everyone else was quite chipper, as if they were heading off on the class trip to Excelsior Amusement Park. So if I had spoken up and the shirts had thrown me to the ground and Maced me and stuffed me into a holding cell to await arraignment under the Patriot Act, I doubted that anyone would've come to my defense. They would've figured I must have had a shoe bomb on me or something.

I wish that I could express myself half as well as Mr Keillor.

Update 2 May

Two articles from today's Australian discuss, apparently unwittingly and without matching the elegance of his prose, some of the issues explored by Garrison Keillor.

Steve Creedy writes of the pressure to cut long airport queues for quarantine inspections, while Natalie O'Brien and Peter Wilson draw attention to other deficiencies which they perceive in the security measures in place at Australian airports, notably Brisbane and Perth.

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