Thursday, October 16, 2014

Overheard at a Major International Airport

"Welcome to the department. As you know, you'll be responsible for implementing our passenger security policies."

"Glad to be here."

"We're worried that some of the people trying to board the airplanes may not be legitimate passengers at all, but rather terrorists who plan to wreak havoc on innocent travelers. So we have rigorous screening procedures that must be followed in every detail."

"I heard about the terrorism thing. Glad to know you all take it so seriously."

"Yes. First, all passengers must pass through a device that detects weapons and explosives. To even approach this area, the passenger must display a boarding pass and a photo ID. The slightest discrepancy between the ID and the boarding pass is grounds for denial of boarding. Passengers must remove their shoes and jackets, empty their pockets and pass their hand-carried items through an x-ray machine. They can't carry drinks or hand lotion unless it's a tiny amount in a bag we can see through. We also reserve the right to require them to be scanned by a machine that lets us see through their clothes."

"Even old ladies and little kids?"

"Yep. Even a one-in-a-trillion chance of terrorism is too high for us to tolerate."

"Awesome. But what if someone puts a time bomb in their luggage?"

"Got it covered. The luggage goes through a separate scanner that cost millions of dollars to develop, and once in a while, we'll pop the lock on a suitcase and rifle through it to find any contraband."

"Sounds like fun. But what if the guy is real sneaky and has some kind of advanced weapon we can't detect or recognize by sight?"

"We have a special, secret list of people who we think might do that, and if the passenger is on it, he goes nowhere. Nobody but us knows who's on the list or why, and once you're on it, you're not getting off it."

"Sweet. But what about concealment of weapons inside the body? You know, up the rear end? Am I allowed to take some kind of scope or something and cram it up there, looking for whatever?"

"We've proposed that several times, but our lawyers inform us that it might expose us to an assault and battery prosecution."


"Yes. it's been very disappointing. As you know, public safety is our absolute top priority. People need to be persuaded that inconvenience is a small price to pay for security."

"Speaking of public safety, what about Ebola? Do you check to see if a passenger is coming from an area where there is a known Ebola epidemic?"

"How would we know that?"

"Well, we make them show us a driver's license, so their address is right on it. We could just maintain a list of towns that have Ebola, and make sure anybody from there can't travel by air until the outbreak has passed."

"You mean, prevent someone from traveling just because he might be a little under the weather?"

"My understanding is that it's a fatal disease more often than not, and the scientific understanding of how it's transmitted is frighteningly uncertain. If even one Ebola victim got through, it could mean an agonizing death for thousands."

"Tell you what. If you see someone who looks a little peaked, ask him if he's been around any Ebola victims. If he says no, let him on through."

"So I should just take his word for it, then?"

"Yep. Now, please stand next to that conveyor belt and if any passengers forget to take their shoes off, remind them loudly, with a real annoyed look on your face."

"Got it. Check shoes. Forget about Ebola. See you at lunchtime."

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