Training Our Children

22 January, 2009

I fly frequently.  Well, not all that frequently, but more than I would want.  Almost always, that flight is either to, or from, a fire.  Sometimes I can drive (which is heaven), but I usually fly.  And it is usually through Detroit, Cincinnati, or La Guardia.

When I go to a fire (or hurricane (Katrina) or national emergency (the WTC incident (which, admittedly, I drove to (in a 1984 Ford sedan)))), the process goes like this:  I start my day normally and, sometime during the day, get a phone call from our dispatching office up in Maine.  They tell me where I am going, what I will be doing, and when they want me there.  They also email my resource order (which means I can pay for what follows with my government credit card).  I call the agency’s travel agency and book a flight, necessary accommodations (not supposed to travel after 10:00pm (my time)) and (if authorized) a rental car.  I quickly repack my red bag (depending on the location and altitude (and thus expected temperature range)) and haul my butt (in uniform (our travel uniform is our duty uniform)) over to the airport.

Funny thing about airports.  They are very security conscious.  Two things that make them suspicious are:  a person travelling alone (never mind that the 9/11 hijackers were in groups) and a person buying their ticket the same day that they travel (apparently terrorists do not book in advance).  This means that my ticket, always, has ‘SSSS’ down in the corner.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, the ‘SSSS’ stands for (as near as I can make out) Super Secret Squirrel Search.  It means the full pat down, wanding, and inspection.  So there I am, in my government uniform, getting all-but-strip searched while everyone else goes through the normally intrusive search (just an aside, but I am very glad that the shoe bomber did not have the bomb in his underwear — think about it).  Luckily, at my local airport, I can show them my resource order, they check with DHS, and I just go through regular screening now.  The return trip, though . . . .

Luckily, for today’s generation (those coming of age (or who will come of age) in our hypervigilant era), there are teaching tools to help children cope with airport security:41g9wa5nrdl__sl500_aa280_

This toy, produced by Playmobil, is now available.  (For a real kick, check out the product reviews at Amazon.) 

They left out a few things, though.  Where is the glassed in area for the SSSS search?  Where is the line of 80 people?  Where are the 12 supervisors standing around watching the two workers?

Something tells me that I will be seeing many, many, many more ‘SSSS’s on my airline tickets.



  1. very glad the bomber didn’t have it in his underwear,
    though that will be a mute point soon when all airports have the xray-specs machines (currently on trial here in Oz).

    Just read the first page of the comments on Amazon, they are freakin’ hilarious

  2. Oh, and if you fly business class you don’t get searched. Apparently the terrorists don’t spend too much on their tickets. I luckily have a Dip Passport so crazy things like lines and searches don’t phase me.

  3. Oz: The comments are better than the toy.

    DB: I may regret asking, but what is a Dip passport? Is this a personal trait, or, what?

  4. Lol, sorry, Diplomatic Passport. Foreign countries (and large US airports) have special lines for them, like US has special lines for Military ID holders.

  5. “Where is the glassed in area for the SSSS search? Where is the line of 80 people? Where are the 12 supervisors standing around watching the two workers?”

    Passengers and supervisors sold separately, collect all security search point playsets and get a free, limited edition “Yuppie with laptop” figure!

  6. Paul, LMAO.

  7. DB: Luckily, I tend to fly in and out of itty-bitty podunk airports: Butte, Medford, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Redomond, Missoula, Billings, Redding. They most likely don’t get a whole heckuvva lot of Dips.

    Paul: Ain’t capitalism wonderful?

    DB: You’re starting to sound like my almost-16-year-old daughter.

  8. There are so many ways I can respond to that statement, but I am smarter enough to know not to joke about a man’s underage daughter. :-p

  9. DB: This is one of the ways that I know I am getting older — I can understand the individual words (or letters) coming out of the mouths of today’s youth. But when my mind puts the words together in the order in which they are spoken, they make no sense.

  10. Those Amazon reviews are great!

    Airport security is crap. Ever think it odd to have suspected dangerous things like water bottles chucked by security into a regular trash can? I mean, if it were an explosive…

    Much like this playset, airport security is pretend, a little ritual we delude ourselves with to think everything is ok, like prayer.

  11. Mark 16: 16 He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.


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