February 28, 2003

Now here is some scary stuff.

So, according to this article, now they’re going to assign a color-coding system to all passengers on airplanes based on information such as “credit reports and bank account activity.” And I am scared.

For one thing, I’m always nervous about anything that uses my credit report as a means of evaluating my character, because my credit report isn’t the best. In fact, it kind of sucks.

But I also think that this system is going to turn out “catching” a lot more innocent people than terrorists, and frankly, I think they’re going way too far into invading our civil liberties. I think they crossed the line awhile ago.

I’m willing to endure a slightly longer wait. I’m willing to have my ugly driver’s license photo out and ready at every checkpoint. I don’t pack nail files or clippers or swiss army knives or anything remotely dangerous into my carry-on luggage anymore. But I’m getting really sick and tired of some other things, and I don’t even fly all that often.

I cannot STAND having my suitcase searched at the ticket line, in front of every freakin’ passenger in the airport. This happened in Greensboro, and I really don’t need to have someone sticking his hand into my underwear compartment and rummaging through my grungy old bras and panties, or opening up my makeup bag and taking out random off-brand makeup to hold up to the light, or moving all my clothes around and taking out my curling iron, etc. ad nauseam. Fuck, if they’re going to go through all my shit at the airport now, I’m going to bring it all in a trash bag and make them fold and pack it after they’re doing rummaging through it all.

At Hartsfield on the way back they just x-rayed my suitcase, and that’s fine, I suppose. I’m still not keen on having all my stuff scrutinized but that’s a concession I’m willing to make. Just don’t go through my bags in the ticket line.

And then I get to the security checkpoint. I always have my ID and boarding pass out and ready, even though they don’t always check it (Greensboro, I’m looking at you). I take my coat off, my watch off, and, if I’m wearing boots, I take those off too and put it all in the trays to make their lives easier. If I miss any of those things, I inevitably set off a metal detector or something and spend ten minutes getting wanded and frisked. Sometimes it happens anyway, even if I don’t set off the metal detectors.

And, of course, there’s the bag. I have a red canvas messenger bag that is my carry-on for flying. Apparently something about that style of bag is suspicious, because they ALWAYS GO THROUGH IT after it’s x-rayed. All I ever have in it is usually some papers and magazines, my wallet, a bottle of water and sometimes my cell phone. And on this latest business trip, I didn’t even take the red bag. #2 has a black one exactly like it and I borrowed that one and still I got searched.

And the thing is, I don’t look or act any differently than anyone else in the airport. I hate all these things, but I never complain about them – in fact I try my best to be cheerful and patient and understanding because I know these people are just doing their jobs and they’re trying to keep us safe. I look completely normal, average, American. I dress normally. And I am always, always, ALWAYS flagged for some sort of extra scrutiny.

Apparently I look shifty.

And that’s a problem, because if they start color-coding people based on random things like their credit reports, I’m always going to look shifty, and I’ll always be the one coded “yellow” and watched like a hawk by everyone in the airport when all I’m trying to do is get somewhere like everyone else.

And if I, someone who looks and acts completely normal, am coded “yellow,” what’s going to happen to other innocent travelers?

Filed under: old diaryland entries

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