Celebrities to soothe airport terror anxiety

In an airport the other day I overheard Connie Chung making an announcement. Our national threat level is elevated to Orange apparently, further precautions are necessary, etc, etc, please report any suspicious activity to the TSA.

Was that Connie Chung’s voice? Why? What was wrong with the usual anonymous voice paging John Smith, paging Mister John Smith? Was a celebrity voice necessary? Did her publicist get Connie the gig, was it a court ordered community service, or did the Department of Homeland Security feel a familiar yet authorative voice was a necessary means to ease passenger suspicion that they are the dupes?

So here was Connie Chung doing her part to calm the travelling masses being led to their ignoble fate of unreasonable suspicion. I don’t know why, I thought of Judas Goats in the slaughterhouses. Does Connie have to Fedex a recording to the TSA at each elevation of the Threat Level?

Now I remember seeing Homeland Security TSA infomercials starring a variety of famous comedians, playing on monitors above the first post-911 lines awaiting the beefed-up airport security. So you laugh off, or shrug off while laughing, the indignity of being told to take off your shoes for the inspectors. Most people bring flip-flops to the gym navigate the few steps from the locker room to the showers lest they contract someone else’s athlete’s foot. These same people are being forced to share foot fungus with thousands more public soles than they are accustomed.

As I was about to board the airplane, I was called out for an additional search by a TSA officer. By called out, I do not mean approached, nor addressed. He simply barked “Sir. Step over here.” He may have said please, I do not remember it in his abruptness. Instead I was looking beside me to see to whom he might have been addressing his command. Maybe I had come in after he had begun with a salutation as is customary when strangers initiate communication. Having seen no one beside me, I looked back at the uniformed TSA guy in time for him to shout “STEP OVER HERE!”

I’m of course only about to respond “Who? Me?” but he’s already talking over me shouting his order again. I was left with no option but to offer my hasty compliance.

I’d have to say I was too startled to fuss about his manners, and I was eager to get aboard the plane, but I would otherwise have loved to mess with this little tin-pot jerk.

I had no objection to being frisked again, or to having my bag searched once more for whatever items I may have purchased from Southland Corporation in the terminal after the last security check. But I will not be shouted at. No.

And my thoughts return to the celebrities trying to facilitate our compliance. I’m reminded of Tadeusz Borowski’s memoir of the concentration camps “This way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.”

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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