Saturday I was returning from the Pepperdine Lectures. It was 6:30 Saturday morning. The word was that we better anticipate a lengthy time passing through security at LAX due to Bin Laden's surmise. I decided to abide by the warning. There might be trouble.
Trouble? Oh, that was the word!
After check-point #1, I moved with the herd to remove my shoes and empty my pockets to pass through the scanner. As I walked through the body scanner, I was facing the rollers. My shoes and belt came through. Shoes were back on and I was just beginning to thread my belt through two loops when booming T-R-O-U-B-L-E was shouted followed by every agent yelling out TROUBLE en mass. It put the fear in the crowd.
There I was facing the rollers, two agents, and then the wall behind them. Seven other lines of scanning are going on; but all are to my back. I immediately noted they were looking at my luggage in the scanner. Too, I started looking around to see what was happening. Everyone had frozen from the very loud declaration.
As I turned to see if anything was happening behind me a young female agent said sharply, Mister! Don't move!
Ummmm....could I tell you right here that the timing of one scanning my luggage, TROUBLE being shouted, and Mister! Don't move! that I felt a bit self-conscious? Does this appear to be a routine inspection or have I just been flushed out as an under-cover terrorist from Oklahoma?
Now Don't move! needs further explanation, I think. Don't move what? Don't move your feet? Don't move your eyes? What? Understandably, I had a few questions. So I turned to see what was happening behind me. I wanted to know if they were all ashamed of me for actually bringing tweezers in my bag. Good grief! I didn't mean anything by it!
So I turned without moving my feet. In my world this is not moving...compared to running or jumping. I could see agents everywhere while all passengers stood frozen. I saw possibly the sheriff of the agents moving about quickly while conferring on a walkie-talkie. Whoops....this didn't look good. I had never been in an assassination attempt before.
But as I swiveled (not moving my feet because she said clearly not to move), the guard upped her warning. In deeper conviction she said, MISTER! DO NOT MOVE! Her eyes riveted on me; I got the message. So there I stood, belt through two loops guided by my left hand while my right hand was 18 inches in front of me holding the end of the belt.
I stood completely immobile as I have always been a very good abider when about to be executed in front of who-knows-how-many-rifles are aimed my direction. And I really can do instructions once they have been defined. Don't move evidently did mean Don't move! So I whispered softly to her....sorry, but couldn't help it....without moving my lips, Is it okay i_ I thread _y _elt(Couldn't get the"f" and the "m" and the "b" out without moving my lips)?
At this point she had just about had it with me. To my sympathy, I had never been uncovered in a world organization terrorist plot before, and I simply was slow at getting the picture. So she ramped up her irritation with me in very harsh tones, M-I-S-T-E-R! I S-A-I-D D-O N-O-T M-O-V-E!
Okay, now I think I have it. Don't move. Don't move my feet. Don't move my belt. Don't move my lips. This way the sharp shooter can have access to my back should he need to fire at me for bringing those tweezers. Great....and I had just put in an offer on a great house back in Tulsa.
So we stood. It probably was two minutes? Three? It felt like forever. Yet, because I could not seem to drain any extra information from tight-lipped Ms. Barney Fife, I stood still just waiting to be cuffed and hauled away.
Finally a loud shout of CLEAR! rang. Everyone started to move about. I moved last. I looked at the young Ms. Fife and said, What was that all about? Shrugging she said, Oh, that was just a drill?
My life passed before me and it was just a drill?
So here is what I have learned:
- When going through security try to chose a line which faces all other lines in case you are told to freeze. You can at least stare into the faces of the terrorized.
- When told not to move you can still let your heart beat and wet your pants.
- When someone yells TROUBLE they don't mean it really. It is only a drill. But...you still should stand still.