Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Up Close and Personal

I owe Rashminda a bouquet of flowers, or at the very least breakfast. Isn't that the usual procedure when somebody is accorded the privilege of feeling you up? Who is Rashminda, you ask? Well, she is the sweet, petite, slightly overworked and somewhat overwrought employee of Transport Canada who has been put into the extraordinarily awkward position of having to check the intimate crevices of every woman passenger travelling out of Toronto Pearson Airport's Terminal 3 bound for American destinations. As a result of some asshole attempting to celebrate Jesus' birthday by blowing up his own asshole, we Canadians have been subjected to airport security more intensive and certainly more invasive than we have ever before known.

For reasons that only the truly reactionary can comprehend, any Canadian flight inbound for the good old US of A must now undergo a screening process that would make prison matrons blush. We are no longer allowed to bring carry-on baggage onto an aircraft. Our personal effects have been reduced to small purses and computer bags. No backpacks, wheeled luggage, briefcases or suit bags allowed. At least the ridiculous pretense of customer service or civility within the airline industry is finally gone, and we can all finally moo out loud like the cattle we have truly become. The humiliation begins with a thorough grilling by US customs agents. It continues with the requisite shoe removal, strip down at the metal detectors, and an emptying of all personal contents at security, (including a swabbing for explosive residue on every single piece of electronics) reddening with embarrassment while some underpaid civil servant passes judgement on my choices in literature and music, and creepily checks out the pictures of my kids that I keep in my computer case. That used to be the end of the line, but since the jackass who tried to wage jihad from his Jockeys, the fun stuff just keeps on coming.

From security we moooooove as a pack to what is now being called secondary security. We are separated into XX and XY lines (a wee bit too WWII for this Jew's liking) so that we can get up close and personal with Rashminda. Poor Rashminda! What a job! She squeezed so many boobs today that I thought that she should have been issued mammography equipment. The woman touched me in places that I thought were mine and mine alone. Apparently not according to Transport Canada. Since Christmas Day the world of air travel has once again changed and we poor bastards are all along for the ride.

The remarkable thing about all of this increased security at the airports and on the planes, is that it seems to be very one-sided. I flew home to Toronto from Fort Lauderdale last Thursday and not one thing was different on the American side. Passengers were invited to bring along all of their carry-on baggage as per usual. The level of inspection at security was very much the same as it was before Christmas. Sure, we had to remove our shoes and display our gels and liquids in a small Ziploc, but there was no pat down, strip search, ripping or shredding of personal belongings and no verbal grilling. We didn't have to arrive at the airport at some ungodly hour, and the process moved along without cattle prods or branding irons. As far as I can recall, the underpants incident was carried out by a Nigerian national flying from Yemen through Amsterdam en route to Detroit. The only thing Canadian in this equation is the airspace that our government graciously afforded to the Northwest flight and over where, (God forbid) the thwarted attempt would have occurred. (Chatham Ontario was a possible casualty!) I am definitely having a "why us" moment. Why is Canada the only country, outside of the 14 terrorist supporting nations that the Obama administration has identified as problematic, forcing her citizenry into these draconian measures when the Americans aren't doing likewise? The holes in this strategy are big enough to drive a 737 through.

I am not one of these people who is standing up and screaming about civil liberties when it comes to flying, even though the idea of these new x-ray machines that will probably get some pervert off viewing my stretch marks, are wracked with problematic issues and questions. I am a fearful flier and I would prefer that the industry does what it can to keeps us all safe, but once again I believe that rather than envision and prepare, they are being reactionary. Chaos ensues from reactions rather than preparations. If the Americans are truly concerned about what is flying around in their airspace, then they should impose the same restrictions on their domestic flights that they are on international ones. And if it isn't the Americans dictating these rules, then the Canadians should stop with the bullshit and own up to their own systematic flaws. In the meantime, what do you all think? Should I send Rashminda roses or daisies? We've become quite close.

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