Tag Archives: security

Injustice

Military guys and hula

I just returned from my second trip to Hawaii this year, this time with two of my besties, to start moving into my beautiful new house. But more about that later. In the meantime, I give you a rant, with humble apologies if this offends anyone, as I’m sure it will. On the other hand, this is my blog and I can say what I want, so if you don’t like it, go read People magazine. Or jump in a polluted lake. Or eat Brussels sprouts until they give you gas. I don’t really care. Here we go.

I am always very careful about airports. I carry no pointy things, no illicit liquids, no metal on my clothing, no balloons filled with heroin or Uzis disguised as bonbons. I always sail through security, especially since I quit smoking (exactly four years ago, not one puff since, no sir!) and never carry lighters anymore.

But this time, a man with a clipboard pulled me aside for “additional security” at Haneda airport, even though I’d already sailed through the x-ray and body scanner. A white-gloved woman made me sit on a folding chair behind a screen and swiped my palms and pockets with a little piece of paper then started pawing through my carry-on. As my annoyance boiled over into outrage, I asked, “Just what are you looking for?” and was told “residue of prohibited substances”. She apologized and said people are chosen at random by a computer.

Even so, prohibited substances? Do they really think I will fiddle around with gunpowder or crystal meth just before arriving at the airport and then forget to wash my hands? I am both suspect and stupid?

My friend Winston says he gets pulled aside for “additional security” every time, every single time, he goes through an airport. Winston is gentle as a lamb. Winston is also black. I wonder if this is the reality of all people of non-pink skin and then kick myself for allowing myself to exist inside a bubble of innocence, all the while knowing that self-same bubble is what makes it possible to cope with the world.

I understand that security has to do what it can to make the world a safer place, but how does endlessly punishing people for the color of their skin, and randomly punishing others in order to justify that punishment, do anything more than make air travel that much more unpleasant and pile one more block on the Jenga tower of injustice that the world has become? Or is this just another twist on the fundamental injustice that has always been and will always be?

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Security

A friend recently asked if we’re the kind of people who keep our windows closed and locked. Nope. Unless there’s a downpour, they’re pretty much always open. We’re rather fond of air.

“But you close them at night, of course,” says she.

Nope, not even then, but a lot of our neighbors do. At our old house, the people next door closed and locked not only the windows but also the shutters, even on the second floor. It would take a rather determined thief to bust in from there, and they really didn’t seem like the type of people to have diamonds and rubies and stacks of cash lying around, although you never know.

My current next door neighbor closes her shutters round about 5:00 every single day. And she doesn’t just close them–she shuffles outside in a pair of over-sized slippers and slams them with a vengeance. I have come to associate the sound with nice things like having a tooth pulled or finding a package of rotten chicken in my backpack.

Come to think of it, in the fourteen years we lived in the old house, I only closed the shutters once, and that was because a typhoon hit us head on. In four years, I have never closed them here.

As close to idyllic as life in Japan seems, petty thievery is not uncommon. But honestly, we really don’t have anything worth stealing. On the other hand, we do have a custom designed, highly sophisticated system of old shoelaces we use to tie the screens closed.

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This is not intended to keep bad guys out. If they want in that badly, they’ll find a way. But it does keep Twitchy in, and keeping her safe is much more important than protecting the Prada handbags and tiaras and mink coats that I will never own anyway.

Souvenir for Twitchy

Going through security at Fukuoka airport this morning, my carry-on set off an alarm. I wasn’t alarmed; I knew there was nothing untoward in it. But they sent it through the x-ray machine again. And again. And then took it off to the secret place they take bags that have been naughty.

A minute or so later they came back looking sheepish and handed it to me with apologies. PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAI suppose they saw the mysterious bundle of twigs and wondered if they were detonators. Opening my bag, they would have seen them clearly marked “matatabi”, which is a type of tree bark that has the same effect as catnip. As far as I know, it is not particularly combustible and has very little street value.