Imaginary "Milk Threats"...
December 2015... We are returning from the US via London to Italy. We landed in London. We are following the “Transit” sign. We came upon a security checkpoint.
Now... I cannot understand the logic behind making someone who has just come off a plane and taken two steps within the airport that is under their control go through yet another control. But, the “authorities” might have their own reasons. Perhaps they do not trust the control on the other side and say “Let us check once more.”
Well, if we had a bomb, why didn't we blow up the plane we came on? Perhaps we have a grudge against the British, let's say we want to harm them especially. But then, what's the difference between blowing up a plane that is taking off from England and that which is landing in England? I cannot see the point but maybe it's just me. Of course it might be that we intend to have an explosion at the airport and not the plane. Or their fear may not be the trustability of the control on the other side but that we somehow manage to get bomb material within the two yards that we walk to get to the transfer plane. As I said, that area is under their control but whatever... It's impossible to make a guess at where paranoid thoughts will go, so let me not even try. We passed through the detector at London transit.
There was a 100 ml. milk bottle in my purse. They confiscated it.
“It's milk for the girl,” I said.
“You cannot take it.”
“Why?” After all, they had let me keep the same bottle and the same milk in America.
“How old is she?” asked the woman.
“3,” I replied without thinking. She had just turned 4 that day.
It had to be in a certain type of bottle and until 2, explained the woman.
As if children stop drinking milk after 2! Whatever... I meant to throw the milk away anyway, not that I wanted it. They say “Toss anything that has been left out of the fridge above 4 C for two hours.” It's been 10 hours. I am not keen on making my daughter drink spoiled milk. In fact, I was going to empty the bottle in the toilet on the plane had I been able to get up from my seat, but I could not because I did not want to wake up my sleeping daughter.
Anyway... I left the bottle with the woman and was going on my way...
Wait! There... There stood a machine in front of me. In the US, they had put the milk inside a machine for 30 seconds and given it back to me. It was the first time I was seeing such a thing. So here, the machine in front of me looked exactly like the one in America. If the Brits had the same machine, why didn't they put the milk there, scan it and let me keep it?
When I have questions, I get stuck. So I turned around. Asked again. “Why can't I get the milk? They passed it through a machine in America and gave it back, isn't that machine over there the same thing?”
“You cannot take it!” the woman shot back.
Did I ask you if I could take the milk that you answer me saying I cannot? Okay, I don't take it, I don't wish to anyway. I want to know the reason. Out of curiosity.
The woman repeated the same thing. “You cannot take it.”
And I repeated the same thing. “I don't wish to take it anyway. But as you have the same machine as in America, why don't you use it? Why does it stand there as an ornament? Why can't I take the milk here when I could in America?”
Fortunately, there was a guy sitting there and he got what I was trying to say and answered my question. “Every place has different rules. Controls do not have international standards. Besides, every place can change the rules in time as we have different alarm levels. England is not under a special alarm currently but we keep the controls tight always. I can say you are at the most safe place here.”
I felt like asking the man “Can you guarantee that our plane will land at Rome Airport without crashing due to a technical error or due to weather conditions?” But I didn't do it of course. I cannot say I liked his answer or approved of it, I wasn't really satisfied either but at least I had got some answer and let it go at that.
Am I a difficult person? I don't think so. But I'm sure I'm not a standart person and they do not encounter people like me so often. I want answers to my questions. To whatever I ask. But people do not understand what questions are for. They do not see questions as questions, they see questions as questioning. Questioning their authority. It's not totally incorrect either, I question that too. However, I question their logic first. Instead of giving me a reactionary answer like “You cannot take it,” it would be nice if you listened to the words, listened to what I was saying and answered the question that was being asked!
This wasn't the first time. I'm afraid won't be the last.
Two months passed... I wrote about this incident. When I went to bed that night, I was still thinking about the incident and about what words served. It is common wisdom that the tone of your voice is an important factor too.: It determines what people hear. Okay but then... When I asked that woman why I couldn't take the milk, there was no tone of argument in my voice. -Because as I said, I genuinely did not wish to take the milk, I only wanted to know the why I couldn't.- So there was no reason for her to perceive what I said the way she did. Then why didn't she, how come she didn't get what I meant?
The next morning... It dawned on me! The woman did not answer my question and kept saying "You cannot take it," Becaaauuuse, hold on tight, she did not have the answer to it! Not that she didn't hear me, not that she didn't understand me. She simply did not know why I couldn't take the milk!
It's so often we overlook the fact that some people are robots. Especially people working such jobs. They are turned into robots by working at such jobs. The woman there has no idea why she is doing anything, she does not ask herself such questions. She does not question the "authorities" who train her for the job. She keeps confiscating stuff but it probably has never occurred to her to ask a “why” question, she is simply executing orders and making a living for herself and family.
"Critical thinking" lessons should be given at schools. Are there such courses at some universities, in certain departments? Well... That's not enough. We should start early in life, start teaching kids to think for themselves and To Question! I believe the ability to ask the right questions is a very important trait.
That night, when I went to bed, I was thinking I should have asked that man... I should have asked him what they thought I'd be doing with that obviously milk-looking-like liquid? That obviously milk-looking-like liquid which they obviously could test for explosives? What was the "threat" a less than a 100 ml milk could cause to "security"?
And when the man told me that we were in the most secure place in the world, I should have told him that I did not want this much security for myself when there were REAL bombs exploding in places on this Earth, when FLESH and BONE people like me were fleeing their homes because of REAL wars. I should have told him I didn't want to dodge the slightest risk of danger to myself.: by taking away the tiniest drop of milk from middle-aged couples with a child, by taking away the milk that had already been checked on a previous flight, even when there was no specific reason for alarm. That I DON'T wish to pay for THIS -for this cretinish act of theater devised by paranoid minds for IMAGINARY “70 ml MILK-looking-like liquid THREATS”-, when there are millions of people in desperate need of VERY REAL security in the world.
Yes, I should have told him all these... Unfortunately, I'm not that quick-witted. My mind works only after the fact. (But it works at least, that's what's important ;) I have to keep on thinking on the matter. I have to write. Writing serves to clarify my mind. It reflects my thoughts, so that I can elaborate on them, refine them. Yes, it takes time. It takes effort. But is worth it. I am accumulating these answers. So that next time when the opportunity arises, I can pull them out of my stockpile readily and use them. And perhaps, my hope is that someone reading these lines may use them; or the things I have written stay in one corner of his mind and he discusses with kith and kin. That's what writing is for: It serves to think and it serves to spread ideas. And of course it serves to keep record.
I hope the next generation will read these airport "security" stories and will look on them as what they are:
A mass INSANITY!