Training Our Children22 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:
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.