Airport Insecurity

Uswa - New City, New York
Entered on June 20, 2008

My parents were born and raised in Pakistan, but I was born and raised in America; therefore, I can be called a Pakistani-American. Since I live in America and I rarely make trips to Pakistan, I often forget the first part of my nationality. I am suddenly reminded when I arrive at the airport. My family loves to travel, but these days airport security is a nuisance to everyone, especially us.

When my father was named, he was fated to a lifetime’s worth of airport special security. With a last name like Ahmad, my family has become accustomed to seeing those two giant, red, S’s. Of course we are told that this is a random selection and of course we believe that it is a complete, one-hundred percent coincidence that my father always has the pleasure of special security.

So my dad goes through the same machines as everyone else, but then he is later pulled aside to a separate, roped-off area. Here, he waits in line with all the other men. There are never any women, but of course these are all strange coincidences. My father does not complain when he is told to pass through extra security detectors and neither does the rest of the family, when we wait for him. Instead, my brother and I find humor in these kinds of situations. As my father empties out his pockets and is patted-down, we stand on the side and tease him. Everyone laughs and the tension is lost. Even the airport security personnel chuckle along with us. None of these jokes are particularly offensive, but they are light and playful.

My family knows that we must follow the rules and the airport workers must do their job. We cannot change the system and we cannot prove that there is a prejudice, but we can stay optimistic. If we were to complain and not cooperate, then it would only create more problems. My family understands this, so we play our part and lighten the mood. By laughing at the situation we show that it does not bother us, and it does not destroy our optimism. I believe that people should laugh at themselves occasionally. Certain things in life are completely beyond our control, but sometimes the best way to conquer these things is to stay strong. My family has nothing to hide, and so we can only laugh at our circumstances. This laughter reassures the security workers and provides support for my father. No one is perfect, and by laughing at ourselves, we show that we recognize our difficulties and are not intimidated by them.