So this thing happened in the airspace over my city. Yet, I was blissfully ignorant of it for most of the day it happened.
I saw a quick headline online that said something about a problem on a flight.
It was Christmas Day. I had Christmas stuff to do. I have two children. We had to get on the rain-slicked roads to grandmother’s house in mid-state Michigan. Even over dinner that evening, the conversation barely touched upon the disaster averted. We were too busy debating political correctness at the holidays, Obama’s first year in office, and if striped cats are gassier than solid-colored ones.
It was not until our long, dark, rainy drive home that we switched on the radio and learned this airplane thing was more like a failed suicide bombing and it was here in Detroit. The next day at my mother’s house we talked at length about cheery things like if the plane exploded in the air, how big an area would the fallout cover? What was the typical incoming flight path of a Northwest/Delta plane? Are there parts of the area that are under flight paths more than others? We realized that no matter where it happened, if it had happened, it would have affected someone we know.
Beyond the bounds of family walls, I’ve heard squat. I mean the news media is squeezing every drop out of the story. But around town, the one that was in the would-be bull’s eye, as far as I can tell, not so much. I asked friends who traveled by air over the holiday if the incident affected their psyches or boarding experiences. Not much, they said. However, they traveled domestically. I didn’t talk to anyone who traveled overseas.
This thing. It didn’t happen as planned. If I understand the story correctly, by the description of things, it wouldn’t have happened even if passengers hadn’t intervened. The guy didn’t have his chemicals mixed properly or something. He didn’t have all the details straight. Thank god. Most likely he terrorized his man parts. Oh, he did terrorize some of the passengers. I cannot minimize that nor will I make light of it.
Two things come to mind in the wake of this:
First, Jeez, can we ever get a break here? Must every bad story, losing sports team, failing industry, worst educational system, all emanate from the Mitten State and specifically from the base of the thumb of the Mitten? I know the situation was random, that it was not specifically designed to make Detroit look bad. One populated American city is as good a target as the next if you are the enemy and on a mission, right? Still, I had a Rodney Dangerfield moment in which I bemoaned “Why can’t we get any respect around here?”
Second, news about heightened security and full body scans horrify me. Are you among those who think nothing of it? Or, are you like me and shudder at the thought of some Dwight Schrute type sweating and giggling as he scans your bits and parts in search of weapons and hidden contraband?
I’m still creeped out about the jaw X-ray my dentist gave me a while back to “hang onto, please.” No further explanation. I took it home and looked it over and felt kinda itchy and twitchy afterward. Don’t count me among those who find skulls and internal organs and neural pathways to be interesting viewing.
However, we are a nation of entrepreneurs and mavericky rogues or is it roguish mavericks? I wonder how soon before an independent contractor sets up shop at the airport to sell copies of your scan as a vacation souvenir? You know how you can ride a roller coaster or go whitewater rafting and at the end there’s a booth with a picture of you all bug-eyed, mouth agape and you wonder where in the heck the camera was and then you pay $25 so you can have it as a memory of your experience?
Who doesn’t want a key chain or a framed collage of the family body scans from the Christmas 2009 holiday vacation?
While I love to travel and I’ve never had any fears of flying, I have come to detest airport security. My worst experiences were traveling both into China and around China. Aside from the trashing of my luggage and the suitcase searches were the confiscation of things that were in compliance with the posted guidelines. As baggage screeners dangled my stuff over the trash can, I’d point to the signs at the gate illustrating the 3-oz containers in small Ziploc Baggies and then wince as my Baggie was tossed into a trash bin anyway. “You cannot have” was the only explanation. I seethed as I had to continuously shrug out of both a backpack and a baby carrier and unload my purse. Apparently baby wearers with backpacks are No. 1 on the suspicious list.
Since then I clench up like a sissy boy in prison every time I approach security. Give me turbulence and crazy takeoffs. I can handle that. But don’t come at me with the latex gloves, Dwight.