The Usual Experience at the Airport

| April 27, 2012

I had finally spotted my bag falling onto the baggage carousel after an un-Godly long session watching luggage pile up. What disconcerted me was that only rarest of eager eyed onlookers grabbed one of them. I shrugged it off and grabbed my bag. I turned to the final exit, reflecting on how quick the processing of my information took, no troubles. As I looked on eagerly to being back in the United States a policeman from a group of three initiated his movement towards me. At once I knew what was happening yet I knew what was not.

Excuse me, could I see your passport?

I was a bit disappointed yet slightly amused at the situation from the onset.

Yes, sir. I handed the man my passport.

He began to ask me questions regarding my stay in London.  I noted that I had not witnessed the guards approach any other travellers and at this point I began to question if the situation could be pre-meditated.

What’d you do in London?

Visit my cousin and watch a football match.

Where does your cousin live?

In London.

A football match? Who won?

I hesitated for a moment, thinking I had dug myself a hole. Of course that was only for a nanosecond. Chelsea did, over Napoli.

Okay, he said.

I sighed and exuded an impatient air while simultaneously he asked the awaiting question, Pakistan in January? What’d you do there?

I have family there, I was visiting them. Part of me smirked at the absurdity of it all; I had done nothing wrong and I knew that. Part of me merely tilted my head back in frustration. I explained to the officer that I try to visit Pakistan often.

Okay, he replied, let’s check your bag. He motioned to the metal luggage examining tables with his hand. I exhaled in despair

I can tell you’ve been in these situations quite often, he commented.

Yeah, I replied, and I’ve never done anything wrong.

He smiled and placed my bag on the table, going through the clothing and belongings. So you go to school at London?

I looked at him curiously, wondering why he would ask such a thing. Was it not obvious I was on spring break? I told him I went to BU.

Oh, BU? What do you study?

Hopefully English and IR.

What’s IR?

International Relations.

He nodded, so what do you think of the relationship between United States and Pakistan and Afghanistan?

I can’t say I replied. I was surprised he would ever ask such a seemingly ostensible question. All I can say is that the world is too much intertwined today.

Yeah, he said, I was over in Afghanistan. I examined my face for a response of any sort.

I simply nodded.

Alright, you’re all set.

On the way out and for quite some period after the incident I reflected on why the officer was so curious about me. It could have nothing to do with me being an American citizen and student at a college. Why did it matter what my opinion is on those specific relations? The national security system can come off as overly suspicious and officious at times. If only realistic targets were interrogated with probable cause instead of innocent people on the basis of presumption.

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Category: featured, Politics, Social Activism

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Writer interested in creative thought, cross-cultural dialogue, and Art.

Comments (1)

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  1. *sigh* if only the US could figure out an unprejudiced and decent system to keep people safe in the air. Instead, brown people (by which I mean anybody who looks vaguely Middle Eastern or south Asian, including myself) get the glances, the checks, the “random” getting pulled out of line for customs and security.

    That doesn’t mean they catch people or things. Adam Savage walked through security’s newfangled X-ray scanner with a 12-inch razor blade up his sleeve. But he’s white, so no suspicious behavior there.

    Speak up and opt out.