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Failure to Implement Basic Safety
(Even When Creative With Our Ideas...)

I feel strange, watching accounts after the 9/11 five year anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, because I’m sure we as Americans have done things in the past five years to make us more safe (how can our government help but make us safer, the have allowed themselves to eavesdrop anyone legally for any information in this country now, right?). You always hear debates over whether we as Americans are safer now, or if people still feel like they are in danger from terrorist attacks.
And at the same time, some people who do go through any of the new screenings and deal with the new measures for safety still complain about the inconveniences they have to go through in order to be safe. Let me pose one example: some have a problem with checking shoes, after someone was caught trying to set off an explosion from materials in the heel of their show. Now, when I first heard of this while I was flying across the country, I thought it was a fascinating system — the first time I saw it was when I was flying into O’Hare airport in Chicago, so the airport I was departing from wasn’t extremely busy. When they asked for my show and swiped it, there wasn’t a line near me, so I asked the person who scanned my shoe to explain how the machine works to me, and I even walked back there with her while she scanned my shoe again so I could see how it tested for… for whatever it was testing for, I guess. But I thought it was kind of nifty, and ever since I’ve made a point to wear my plan slip-on black shoes with black socks to the airport, so it’s easy for me to slide off my shoes and put them back on with no problem whenever I travel through an airport.
And I can want to draw the line at forbidding any liquids in airports. The morning they were catching terrorists at Heathrow Airport, I was flying to Seattle to marry my friend Brian to his beautiful wife Lauren, and the only when we found out about the liquids ban was because there was traffic to O’Hare and we needed to check the news & traffic station for an update. All they were playing were details about how flights starting right before our flight took off had any and all liquids banned — from lip gloss to bottled water to shampoo to nail polish. I told my husband that my carry on was filled with every liquid product imaginable to mankind (from shampoo and conditioner and hair stray to gel and toothpaste and mascara and lotion and baby oil gel, and maybe even more liquids I can’t remember now), so he said, “Well, I guess your carry on is now luggage.” So we packed my carry on as luggage, and before we got to the end of the line to give them our luggage, I removed all of the lipsticks and lotions from my purse, so I wouldn’t have to give up more of my belongings. My husband even heard a woman complain irately (and confusedly) that she didn’t want to give the people at the airport after she dropped off her luggage her $75 nail polish.
No lie, $75 nail polish.
I thought, if she was stupid enough to spend $75 on nail polish in the first place, she should be forced to relinquish the polish.
But it was aggravating on the flight back from Seattle to O’Hare, because I was cheap enough to get a layover in Denver. Well, we left for our trip at 5 in the morning, and once we got to Denver, out flight from Denver to Chicago was cancelled — so we had to wait for hours in line at Denver airport, to get rescheduled on a flight hours later for the Las Vegas airport, which meant we only arrived at home at one in the morning, which meant I went in really dry air conditions without lip balm for 20 hours, which caused me to get a cold sore (that I tried anything to do to get rid of before I was the final feature at the 2006 Professional Journalism Expo in downtown Chicago).
Grrr. That wasn’t fun.
But apparently a week later they decided to allow some liquids, in small quantities. And as aggravating as this can be, I don’t mind having to do it to feel like some safety measures were done for my flight. I don’t know the specific restrictions on baby formula, but… You’d save me the dealing with screaming children who can’t get their ears to pop if we just didn’t allow them on a plane in the first place.
But given all of these new restrictions they’re placing on us so we can fly, we thought of ways that terrorist could still get away with killing people (I’d mention those ideas, but if I did, Big Brother, I mean, our government, would probably have me on a watchlist if I ever wanted to take a flight). And think of any other places where we’re not safe — there is no strict guard over all freight trains, and shipping or freight boats docking into any shore can carry anything hazardous and no one would be the wiser. That and el train lines or subways could be easily shut down in a major city like in Chicago or New York.
The point? I guess the point is that we’ll never be safe enough, even if we do everything in our powers, including taking away our freedoms. But when you go through an insanely long line at an airport, don’t fret so much. Just learn to go to the airport early (like they tell you to do), pay attention so things will go smoothly, and realize that if we want to have all of these freedoms, we have to be willing to take our time to make sure we’re as safe as we possibly can be.




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Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
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