Posted by: Rael Kalley | January 22, 2010

25. Lighten up

Airline travellers world-wide will soon owe me an enormous debt of gratitude for saving them from the horrors of airport security once my innovative solution to airport security checks is adopted as the international standard for removing the threat of terror from our skies.

As I’m sure you remember, on Christmas day last year a young Nigerian boarded a plane in Lagos and flew to Amsterdam where he switched planes and headed for Detroit.

It seems that he loaded his underwear with PETN because, apparently, placing a sock, a grapefruit or even a watermelon in there like the rest of us do wasn’t good enough for him.

He bought a one-way ticket to travel halfway around the world.

He paid cash.

He had no luggage.

His father, a prominent and respected Nigerian businessman had voiced his concerns about his son’s extremist beliefs to U.S. authorities several days before this incident.

Only a Sherlock Holmes could possibly deduce potential nefarious activity with such minimal clues.

As an aside, and even though I am not a part of this story, in the interests of full disclosure I must  point out I am peripherally connected to this event as I am closely connected to his father and can vouch for his character and integrity.

His father is the former Chairman of the First Bank of Nigeria. He resigned when they opened the Second Bank of Nigeria because he was afraid his workload would double.

His father has two wives which we all know is the standard penalty for bigamy in our country.

His father and I are involved in a long term email relationship as I believe he is the same Nigerian banker who sends me upwards of one hundred emails each week offering to share with me the proceeds of an unclaimed sum of $50,000,000 (please see posting #10. My lucky stars).

It must be him. How many Nigerian bankers can there possibly be?

Anyway, back to airplane security. Since this event I have counted no fewer than twenty-six magazine covers screaming headlines about airport line-ups and safety.

We have all heard the stories of weary and frustrated travellers lining up for hours to clear security, babies being searched, random pat downs, pending body scanners, shoe removal, no fluids, only one cigarette lighter per passenger (can someone explain this to me), x-rays, only one carry-on, no carry on and, I swear I read this in a magazine this week, the development of  ‘smart’ seat belts that will enable the cabin crews to ‘lock’ any passengers they deem a threat in  their seats at will.

Every time they add an inconvenience to the passengers it signals a major victory for the bad guys and. I think people have just about had enough.

There must be a better way.

I decided to do something about this.

As an outstanding citizen I immediately committed all the resources of our corporate research department to resolving this passenger nightmare and, I am proud to announce, they exceeded all expectations. They created a solution that is nothing short of genius.

You see, their research revealed that tiny particles of explosive material will penetrate the skin of everyone who is in close proximity to these chemicals and that these particles will enter the bloodstream and wend their way into the digestive tract from where they will eventually be eliminated from the body

So, their solution?

Stool samples.

Brilliant.

All passengers intending to board a plane to anywhere will henceforth be required to produce a stool sample for analysis by airport security staff.

Passengers will not be allowed to bring these samples into the airport as it is far too easy to borrow a sample from a friend if your intention is to thwart security measures.

Therefore, all passengers will be required to produce a fresh sample in the presence of a duly sworn security officer who will be responsible for tagging it and delivering it, by hand, to the nearest analysis facility.

Once collected, specially trained dogs (Malka, unfortunately, will not be available as she already has a full time job being adorably cute) will then be deployed to sniff the good from the bad. If the dog collapses to the floor and stops breathing – you’re goin’ down.

The increased costs of collection and analysis can be easily offset by allowing laxative manufacturers to advertise prominently throughout the airports.

They could even sell their products through vending machines at the ‘drop-off’ centres.

Selling suppositories in the depositories – I like it.

Not only will this keep us safe but it will significantly ease the present strain on our health care system by redefining the term ‘regular’ flyer.

And the airlines will benefit mightily by huge fuel cost savings resulting from lighter loads. We may even see a return to profitability for some of them which could lead them to – wait for it – stop their relentless whining.

Here’s the point.

Obviously what I have written above is absurd. But is it any more absurd than what we’re experiencing right now?

Every time there is a new incident or a potentially horrific event is narrowly averted, the immediate response is gigantic overreaction.

New rules are instantly created regarding what may or may not be carried aboard, passengers are subjected to ever lengthening line-ups, additional screening, groping and other assorted abuses and a host of new technology is hastily purchased and installed to thwart a repeat of this most recent methodology.

I certainly don’t have a solution but there must be a better way.

How is it possible that with all red flags raised high, including a warning from a concerned parent this person was able to board a plane?

Is it possible that the territorialism that exists among the many different intelligence and law enforcement agencies prevented the sharing of this information with the proper authorities who could have stopped him from getting on board?

Could these agencies, so protective of the information they gather, just pretend, for a while, that they are adults who share the same end goal – to keep us all safe.

Could we embrace new thought to create better solutions?

I don’t know the answers to these questions.

I don’t know if we need more technology.

I don’t know if we need more intelligence gathering

I don’t know if we should adopt the proven and highly successful Israeli method of in-depth interviewing of passengers.

I don’t know if we should just simply close all airports and encourage people to walk more.

But I do know that people are getting tired of the way they are treated at airports.

I know many people have had enough.

I know many people will change their travel plans or utilize alternate methods of transport.

I know our present system is broken.

Will somebody please fix it?

In the meantime I’ll have the chocolate flavoured Exlax, please.

Till we read again.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZfbTlYpKYo


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