Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
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Next time you’re bemoaning your lot as you load your lap-top, shoes and belt through the security screening machine, spare a thought for the staff on duty.
These are the people given the thankless job of trying to keep our airports and aircraft safe, the ones charged with enforcement of often ludicrous government policies that change constantly and treat every traveller like a potential terrorist.
Since the UK terror alert last August, the number of security staff at London Heathrow Airport has burgeoned. Slowly, slowly the processes have quickened up though it’s still a deeply unpleasant way of starting a trip abroad.
But that doesn’t excuse the abuse some of the security staff get. The Moodie BLOG chatted to a couple of them on Friday at T1 en route to Tokyo Narita. Or should we say, they chatted to us.
“What do you make of these security checks then?” one asked me out of the blue as I scrambled to reclaim my belt, shoes, wallet, two tape-recorders, lap-top, chargers, blackberry, mobile phone, keys and door keys. (We figure that very few belts get left behind at security as one’s trousers tend to fall down but the mobile phone count, based on The Moodie BLOG’s own unfortunate experience, must be phenomenal).
“They’re just part of travelling these days,” I replied blandly. “Why do you ask?”
“Oh, just wondered mate. A lot of people don’t like them much.”
“Do you get much abuse?” I asked.
“All the time,” said his companion. “I got called a xxxx Paki the other day. “I could have had the guy arrested.”
“And I was called a F*** A**,” said the other. “One even guy said to me ‘In my country we would kill people like you.”
“Really? Did you have them arrested?”
“Nah, not worth it, is it? Yesterday a woman threw a bunch of flowers right in the face of one of our female colleagues. She was allowed to fly.”
I said my goodbyes and, as always, thanked them for doing a good job. And I thought about that woman who had assaulted a staff member and the man who had racially abused another. And I wished both had been arrested, their pictures shown and their behaviour publicised for all the world to read about.
It’s impossible to sink as low as a terrorist’s behaviour. But abusing those with the thankless job of keeping us all safe runs it a pretty close second.