Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Busted!


Before I share a glimpse of the charming city of St. John's, Newfoundland, please indulge me in a tragic tale of airport security measures.

Yes, it was my favourite pair of embroidery scissors that did me in. I foolishly thought that by now, the commandants of airport security would realize that middle aged ladies who embroider are probably the most unthreatening of travellers. After all, we carry the tools for peace in our handbags, and are unlikely to succumb to air rage as long as we have needle and thread close by.

But, as I say, I'm foolish.

These scissors had often travelled with me. Even though I had bought them at Michael's, they possessed a certain personality - confident and serene in their sharpness, reliable in the hand. They played an integral role in many an embroidery.

On this trip, they made it through security at Vancouver without fuss. (I guess this means that all those terrorists coming to the Olympics can bring their fingernail clippers without worry.) But in St. John's, the young security agent said the scissors were forbidden. She would have to dispose of them, or I could go back and check my small carry-on through the ticket desk.

The folly of my smug desire to travel light and avoid interminable waits at luggage carousels became sadly clear. I made a quick decision to give up my scissors, and then surprised the agent (and myself) by bursting into tears. "They have been with me for so long," I cried. "You can't just throw them away."

She looked at me with renewed interest, as if I might fling open my hoodie to reveal sticks of dynamite taped to my chest. I composed myself somewhat, and went off for a good cry in the women's washroom.

It wasn't just the loss of the scissors that upset me. It was that they were being thrown away, not going to a thrift store or a senior's home or a deserving crafty staff person. There are many things I resent the perpetrators of September 11 for - the loss of privacy, the attitude of paranoia and suspicion that pervades normal daily life, the increased cost to the public, and the tightening of borders. I now add to that list the criminalization of the stitching traveller.

Just take me to the taser zone now...

(Startare posted an excellent thoughful comment on this post, which was meant to be amusing. Please check out her comment and my reply, and goodness knows, I don't want to start any controversy.)

4 comments:

  1. Yes, we have all felt saddened by the loss of cherished treasures, the old Swiss army knife given by a father, the sweet pair of funny-shaped scissors given to a darling daughter, and my sister was disgusted at seeing some delicious speciality of the place she had just visited thrown into the bin, while it should have been feasted on by a family.
    But are you sure you are blaming the right people for it? We "chose" to inflict these daily attacks on our freedom and we know that they are not the effective means of tackling the problems of terrorism.
    As Crimethinc say "terrorist used airplanes to kill thousands of people, and politicians and media used the event to kill a little bit of everyone who survived".

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  2. Startare says it so well. I guess was a bit too subtle in the way I phrased it, but my position is actually one of suspicion that the horrific event was orchestrated by certain unnamed powers that are profitting and/or otherwise benefitting from the reduced freedoms that we now experience.

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  3. Yes, good points...I was so annoyed with the US government, because I couldn't visit Montreal as originally planned this past weekend, having realized too late that I did not have the proper documentation. And my partner discovered that what she thought was her birth certificate, was just a certificate stating that she has a birth certificate on file in New Jersey. That will cost $50, plus the $100 it cost me for my enhanced driver's license, and another $100 for hers...what are poor people supposed to do? And how does this make us all safer?

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  4. Anonymous9:15 PM

    Wonderful discussion and all because some dear embroidery scissors were confiscated in St. John's, NFLD.
    I have nothing to add to the philisophical aspects of this discussion. I just have my own story of confisctaion.
    Returning to Canada from Japan, I thought I had packed everything in its proper place. I had six bottles of sake bubble-wrapped and tucked safely into my suitcase. I put my swiss army knife in there too. I never go anywhere without it. But I forgot the most threatening object of all. I forgot my shaving cream! It was in a pocket of my carry on backpack.
    The Japanese immigration officer very politely asked if he could look through my backpack and when he found the shaving cream his face lit up and he told me I would have to give it up or I could pass it to anybody I knew just ouside the security area. Luckily, some friends had dropped me off at the airport and they were watching this entire drama from just beyond the security zone. They were waving goodbye to me and I was frantically waving to them to indicate that something was wrong and they thought I was waving back to them so they waved some more to me and I waved even harder back to them on and on it went. They must have thought I was really sad to leave them behind. Then I remebered I had my cell phone with me so I phoned my friend just 20 metres away and he got the message. The security officer delivered my precious shaving cream and it awaits me back in Japan.
    What with all the demands for extra ID and restrictions about what is and isn't safe to carry and the poor airline food it's enough to make you want to just stay home. BUT DON'T! Get out there and see the world and meet other people! Letting governments restrict our movements would be the worst thing that we could do in this post-9/11 world.
    I look forward to seeing a few pictures from your trip to NFLD, Heather. Jean-Pierre

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