Three, maybe four days prior to the latest terror plot, I had a conversation with my mother (a flight attendant for a domestic carrier that flies internationally) inquiring if she feels any safer than pre-9-11 when we didn't know what we didn't know. And she said no. She said no because she sees things on a daily basis that the rest of us don't see. She hears stories about people on watch lists that aren't really being watched because TSA, Customs, and the FBI still are not doing a great job of talking to each other. She hears stories of other observant flight attendants who happen to notice suspicious persons, mention them to customs and low and behold, those two guys were on a watch list. Because that's ultimately the issue, it's up to all of us. And that is why we won't be safe.
We won't be safe for a lot of reasons but the biggest one is that we aren't observant enough and it's us who are "on the ground" in the whole safety game. I had to fly from Hartford to DC within days of the whole "liquids scare." Quick digression: Did you know that the guys in England hadn't even gotten their passports yet? Seems to me if you are going to imminently attack someone you better have your passport ready. But, I digress. First of all, I was flying on what is called a companion pass, meaning standby at a reduced fare. When I checked in with the very nice agent, I had a question about what we could or could not bring on and she couldn't answer it. Why? Because they get no briefings on anything. I know this because I had an extensive conversation with her and she said she is actually writing her congressman about all of the safety issues she sees every day that are not addressed. And, guess what? I had already gone on the TSA site the night before I left and their last updated info was from March. Way to help out the already stupid public.
I get to security and there is no one there. Which is weird enough in and of itself. I had checked anything resembling a liquid so I got right through. Then, they were doing random bag checks at the gate. I think this was only because the flight was going to DC. And it's random. And guess what, no one likes the idea of profiling, but all this random screening doesn't do sh$$ because the last time I checked Shea O'Sullivan with his red hair, green eyes and milky white skin wasn't the one blowing people up. (And don't talk to me about Oklahoma City, I'm talking post-9-11 here).
They don't allow you to take any liquids through security. Then they don't allow you to take any liquids you purchased in the "sterile" area on the plane. Why don't they just say what they mean? We can't guarantee your safety at all so we are going to put all these piecemeal, totally lacking in common sense measures in place so you average joes think you are safe when in reality you aren't and we don't know what we are doing. And we don't know what we are doing because all of our measures are reactive not proactive. And we don't want to inconvenience you too much because we know you'll stop flying and completely destroy the airline industry. Hello, El-Al on line one with some security ideas for you.
It was even funnier flying out of DC. I was sniffed. Have you been in those bomb sniffing machines yet? They blow air all over you and supposedly can sniff out if you've been near some sort of explosives in the past few days. Yeah. Am I the only one who sees all of this as just utterly stupid? They can't get a freaking x-ray machine to work, which is why they have bag checks. Their metal detectors don't work either which is why they then wand you and apparently that doesn't work either because then they have to pat you down. Is there anything at the airport that works? And also, the sniffer is totally random and you know, I'm highly suspicious looking so obviously I need to be in the line that has the sniffer.
Not to mention, why in the hell are they even letting us in the airport with liquids. I walked in with my Starbucks. And guess what? I could have blown up the entire airport according to them with my coffee cup and a clandestine meeting with someone carrying a water bottle. You could kill a lot more people at the airport on the ground than in the air even. And don't get shitty with me that I am mentioning this and giving a terrorist ideas. Because guess what? If you have read the parts about what you are allowed to take on planes, TSA has already informed these a-holes what to do. As in, as long you disguise it as breast milk or four ounces of cough syrup you can still accomplish your dastardly deeds.
But we won't be safe because we aren't paying attention and we don't want to do what will ultimately have to be done (like profiling) because we find it inconvenient or politically incorrect. We are waiting for the government to protect us and what are they doing? The equivalent of "ignore the man behind the curtain." We listen to them saying do this and you'll be safe. Leave your Blistex at home or in your bag and you'll be fine. And we're swallowing it. Bill Maher had a great point over the weekend: when they start planting bombs in hairdos, like the sheep we are, we'll show up to have our heads shaved. Everyone but my yiayia who wouldn't give up her beehive for an all expenses trip to a destination of her choice.
The bottom line is, we aren't safe. We may never be again. But guess what? We weren't really safe in the first place. We just thought we were. Ask anyone living in an area that is frequented by bombs and terrorists and they will tell you, they still have to go about their daily lives. Is fear a part of their lives? Of course it is, but they are living in a situation we can't even dream of. We're worried about getting blown up on a plane which has happened once in the entire history of aviation. They are worried about getting blown up buying milk for their kids. We have to be vigilant, we have to be observant, but for the love of God, we have to exercise some common sense.