Archive | July 17, 2012

On Totalitarianism–Security Checkpoint

Security Checkpoint

Some people like to make a point. Such people are the bane of my existence. Yes, I have the unhappy role of working in Airline Security, Inc. I have been doing it for twenty years, but recently I have noticed that people are feeling a bit repressed by all of the safety measures we have in place. Take the other day when I was testing out a Body Scanning Machine Thingy (BSMT). This middle-aged man walks up in a skeleton suit, one of those black, formfitting onezies with a skeleton painted in white on the front and back. The guy thought he was pretty funny. So, yes, these are the things I have to deal with. Mostly I try to humor the customers, because, of course, they go through a lot on an average airplane flight. Then there’s Lola, one of the ‘trying to make a point’ people, and, yes, a Bane! Strikingly beautiful, but nonetheless…

Lola Richardson flies often for her job as a consultant. As to what kind, I had always guessed “hair” because she changes that quite often––different colors, textures, lengths. Actually, the only thing she keeps the same about her appearance are her boots. The first time she came through, one morning on her way to Dallas, I thought that maybe she’d forgotten about having to slip off one’s shoes to send through the scanner. I greeted her with an indulgent smile and asked where she was off to. She flirted and said how she’d never flown from this airport before.

Let me tell you about Lola’s boots: Purple shiny fake leather that goes up to mid-thigh, including all twenty-one crowded sets of lace holes, five-inch heels made of some indestructible material that, although not hazardous, is thus-far unidentifiable. When I ask her as I always do, where she got them, Lola shrugs and says, “I didn’t know you were also the fashion police.” We make this exchange quite often since she comes through security four times a week.

The first time Lola came through, she sent her numerous carry-on boxes and bags down the conveyor belt––each of which seemed to scatter annoying glitter and sequins everywhere (Even now, when I stand in front of the mirror to check the progress of my balding head, I find glitter nestled in the crevices of my face.) and stopped abruptly, causing the line of people in back of her to wobble. Ever so nonchalantly, Lola lifted her right foot up, placing the heel on the conveyor belt. She stretched out, much like a ballerina doing her exercises and undid all twenty-one laces as slowly as possible. We had to open up two new stations just to compensate. Some of her fellow travelers giggled, getting the joke, but most just wanted to make their flights. When she started in on her second boot I asked if she could speed it up a bit. She looked up at me with her fantastic wide brown eyes and said, sweet as honey, “Oh, I’m sorry, am I inconveniencing you?” Bane. Bane, bane, bane of my existence! The airport would like to ban her, but I tell them that’s only inviting trouble. So yes, we watched her undo her second boot, both of which went through the scanner just fine. Her bags, however, were filled with shampoo bottles, hairspray, suntan lotion, face cream and the like. As we, sadly, threw each bottle away, she pulled out a store receipt and said loudly what each item cost.

“Our liquid carry-on policy is clearly stated on the signs just to your left, the signs as you enter, and the notices on our website.” I hissed, but Lola only arched a perfect brown eyebrow and stared at me. “Yes, and how much safer I do feel. I suppose I’ll get this stuff back on my return flight? Or will you bring your aging girlfriend a new face cream this evening?” After that it was again with the re-lacing of the boots––and this she did much faster, sitting on a bench by herself. She packed away all of her empty bags into another empty bag and clip-clopped off to her gate.

One day, not so long ago, I asked Lola what exactly she was a consultant for.

“Security, of course.” She answered as she handed me her black leather jacket with the zippers and buttons made of gunmetal.

Originally written in 2010.  ––P. Beldona

On Totalitarianism–Mottle Knows Best

Mottle Knows Best

Mrs. Mottle scurried after her neighbor, Rose. Rose stopped abruptly on the sidewalk and turned around with a grimace. “Following me again, Mrs. Mottle?” She put one hand on her hip. “Let me guess, block party meeting this evening?”

“We are a social group.” Mrs. Mottle said, taken aback at Rose’s fierceness. “We get together and talk about the happenings in the neighborhood.”

“Gossips, the lot of you.” Rose tapped her heels impatiently. “I’m due at the office in twenty minutes. If I arrive late and someone else grabs up the spot, I’m blaming you.”

“Me?” Mrs. Mottle’s heart fluttered. “Rose, you are so irritated at me when I’m only trying to help you…for your own good! They may take you away!”

“What?” Rose’s eyes narrowed and she stepped forward. “What did you say? What have you been telling the block party, Mrs. Mottle? Only too happy to ‘report,’ aren’t you?”

Mrs. Mottle realized she’d said too much. “N-no, of course not, dear. We’re only here to help! I would never get you…in trouble, but for your own good, it––”

“Then what is it? What did I do this time?”

“Rose, you must understand that I have your best interests at heart. This morning,” She sighed, “Now prepare yourself…this morning your shower was seven minutes.” Mrs. Mottle looked up hopefully only to find Rose staring down at her open-mouthed.

Rose crossed her arms. “And? I’m waiting for the punch line…”

The younger woman laughed shortly. “Oh, Rose, why, you’ve forgotten! The new edict! Now let me see if I remember it straight, ‘all citizens are responsible for their water use. To go beyond the recommended five minutes for a shower is shameful and a waste.’ So you see––”

“Oh, shut up!” Rose pulled her handbag up higher on her shoulder. “What does it matter if I take a seven-minute shower? What does it matter if I take a twenty-minute shower? I’m paying for it! We have entire oceans at our disposal, and, apparently you haven’t noticed because you’ve been too busy spying on people, it has rained cats and dogs every evening for the last eight days! Oh, and another thing! You think the Higher-Ups really care about these things? You think the block party does? Damn it, Mrs. Mottle! Can’t you see what they’re doing?”

“Of course, Rose, but Practical Science states––”

“Ha! As if PS is ever practical! Or right! One day eggs are good for you, the next they’re bad! Why, I saw an article just the other day on the evils of fruit! Fruit! You know what it is, don’t you? They want us to eat only that dog food for humans they keep manufacturing, while the Higher-Ups feed on steak and wine! Oh, I can’t believe I let you rile me up this early in the morning! Good day, Mrs. Mottle!” Rose tromped off in her heels.

Her neighbor looked sorrowfully after her. Little did Rose know the danger she was in. Two more strikes and she would have to be put in Rehabilitation…for the common good, of course. Mrs. Mottle didn’t like her task, but the important thing was that the laws be kept. Rose was always going off about the “stupid, ridiculous, impractical laws that made real living impossible!” Mrs. Mottle didn’t think that was for them to judge. That was for the Higher-Ups, the people who knew better. She wasn’t sure at that moment why they did know better, but surely they must, as they were in charge. She must inform the party of Rose’s seven-minute shower. The young lady puffed out her chest. They would talk it through. They would come up with a solution and show Rose how her thinking was wrong. It was only a matter of time.

Story originally written in 2010.  –P. Beldona