Sunday, September 14, 2008


The scene starts off with me walking into Dulles Airport in Washington DC with an overweight suit case which I wasn't lucky enough to avoid paying for its extra pounds. I was however lucky enough to be chosen for something not everybody gets to experience. It was after I got my boarding pass and was walking through the airport security that would get me on the plane when the black police officer checked my boarding pass, gave me the biggest smile, and told me:

"Ma'am, I would like to inform you that you've been selected for additional screening so that gentleman right here will escort you to where you'll be screened"

I felt so excited just from the way he said it as if I had just won the lottery. So I was escorted by another police officer to a see through glass booth where a black female police officer came in, told me to take my shoes off, and checked me for explosives.

Additional screening is when a member of airport security uses this little round white paper to swab you, your shoes, your bag, your laptop, camera, and everything u will carry on the plane and then stick the little round paper in a machine that will either go 'tick tick tick' or 'weee waa wee waa wee waa'...

I had a short chat with the police officer, who once she entered the glass booth asked me:

"Ma'am, are you aware that you've been selected for additional screening?"

I answered: "Yes"

That's when she said: "I will now ask you to raise your arms as I pat you down on your stomach, under arms, abdominal area, and your legs... can you please take off your shoes?"

I took off my shoes, and my stuff went through the metal detector then she did all the patting and swabbing as we chatted a little

I asked her: "Do you have to give this speech to everyone you check?"

She said in a very bored tone: "Yes ma'am, in order to avoid getting sued for sexual molestation..."

I said to her: "But I'm actually glad you're doing this... These security precautions make me feel safer."

She answered: "Yes ma'am, but you know how Americans are, they wanna do everything their way"

That's when she asked me why I'm in the US, and I told her I'm here to cover the elections, and that's when she endorsed Obama and we chatted and had a few laughs as the papers she swabbed me with went through the machine. I then told her I would really like to catch my plane and that is when she said:

"Sure ma'am, the second I verify that you don't have any 'bang bang boom boom' you will board your plane right away.

Another security guard who was standing close by laughed hysterically at how she described it and I followed not being able to hold it... it was funny

We laughed and chatted about politics and how she supports Obama because he's black and represents her people as the machine cleared me of any explosive allegations and she wished me a good flight as I wished her a great day and went on to get on the plane.

I don't know whether it's my gold locket that has an engraving of 'Allah' in Arabic, or whether its my Egyptian passport, or whether it was my saying 'Al Salamu Alaykum' to a veiled female janitor on my way in that made them select me for additional screening... or maybe it's purely random selection that gave me the honor of being selected for that special explosive screening, but either way I did feel safe for knowing first hand that anyone believing he or she can get anything that goes 'boom' on the plane I'm on has another thing coming...

The truth is I have no idea why I was selected for additional screening. It could be profiling and it could be random, but either way I know why and it made me feel safe. And this is because a terrorist will not distinguish me from any others. What most people don't know is that a terrorist crazy enough to committ an attack is crazy enough to not see a difference between someone like me and 'the Americans'. I salute the airport security men and women who do their job and keep flying in America safe.

1 comment:

JAC said...

Thanks for the post. I'm an American living in Egypt right now, so it's pretty interesting for me to read what a group of Egyptians think about the America they are seeing firsthand.

I just have one quick comment about your post. I don't know why you were selected for additional screening, and while the optimist in my says there is no way it was profiling, there is no way to know for sure so I won't guess. But I will say this: I am as white as it comes, and I have as white and Anglo-American a name as it comes. Yet I have been selected for additional screening three times in the last few years, and I am often stopped on my way back in to the country from abroad for some unknown reason. I'm glad it happens most of the time, because it reassures me that everyone gets stopped, even really stereotypically white guys.