“Be safe!” my well-wishing co-workers and neighbors said, sending us off to South Dakota last week. I’ll have a longer riff on the topic of safety in light of our checkered history in that regard to, from and with our grand daughters for five days.
Safety, of course, is a good thing. But there can be too much of it, smothering, oppressive and Orwellian at a certain point when vigilance is overwhelmed by fear, justified or not.
A half dozen times the tiny Case knife has made it through airport security. Fact is, until yesterday, I’d forgotten it was even in the mesh bag of random parts–thumb drive, lip balm, paper clips, pocket change, ball point pens, post-ems and such–that is always in the top zippered compartment of my bookbag.
“Who’s bag is this?” asked the TSA lady in an overly-accusatory tone. “Step aside please” and this was obviously a big deal. “You’ll have to check this in your luggage” she said, showing me the tiny knife.
“I thought blades up to two inches were allowable” I told her.
“No blade is allowable” she said emphatically, and my impulse was to push the issue.
“How about an eight of an inch? A sixteenth? How crazy is that? What kind of threat of mass destruction could someone wreak with a inch-long blade like that? Couldn’t a deranged physical therapist do more harm with a metal ballpoint pen like the one in the same bag as the dwarf knife? Will my wife and I be required to trim our fingernails the next time we are unfortunate enough to have to fly again, God help us?”
But of course I told her to enjoy her new knife, shuffled sockfooted to the nearest dirty seat and put my shoes and my attitude back where they should be, more or less.
I thought my situation was obsurd. It gets weirder than that. Put your hands in the air, this is a stickup. Image and story from BoingBoing.
Will the pendulum swing back towards vigilance with reason? Will we someday be shackled and muzzled as we enter the concourse turnstile for the sake of the greater good of society? Will the future of “safe” be good for us? What’s lost in our excess of caution? Far more than our tiny airport trinkets.