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Saturday, Jan. 26, 2002

JAPAN LITE

No snow tires allowed in your carry-on


Surely anyone who has tried to fly recently has found themselves mumbling, "Osama bin Ladin, you weenie!"

Recently, before boarding a flight, I had my scissors confiscated. As if I, who am only 150 cm tall, could actually hijack a plane with a pair of scissors! In reality, I'd need a very large pair of scissors, more like a scissor-sword contraption, to do the job.

Now, thanks to bin Ladin (weenie!), a sign at the airport check-in areas warns that no scissors, nail clippers, gardening tools, studded snow tires or pit bulls are allowed in your carry-on baggage. Neckties, I presume, must be kept around your neck at all times.

I wonder though, if scissors are so dangerous, shouldn't they be given to passengers rather than taken away from them? Serious hijackers aren't going to rely on scissors to hijack a plane. Scissors just aren't that reliable. I mean, what if the tip broke off? At least passengers could collectively use offensive scissors moves to possibly bring down a hijacker. I'm thinking strength in numbers: 350 passengers surrounding the hijacker, scissors poised, threatening to cut off all his clothing.

But seriously, shouldn't passengers have a right to self-protection? While human rights groups are fighting for the humane treatment of suspected terrorists detained by the U.S., innocent passengers are being denied the right to protect themselves from terrorists. Our scissors are confiscated until we reach our destination. Only if we actually arrive at our destination can we retrieve them. Where is the human right to protect ourselves with unlikely objects of mass destruction? Even the knife in the airline flatware kit has been replaced with a plastic one.

Shouldn't scissors be specifically available to passengers in the event of a hijacking? They could be part of a hostage protection kit, in which any sharp objects that have been confiscated would be returned to you in an emergency. The flight attendant could advise passengers, "In the event of a hijacking, a pair of scissors will appear automatically along with your oxygen mask."

But alas, because of bin Ladin (weenie!), airlines are now forced to go through extraordinary measures -- all in the name of passenger protection. I fully expect the next announcement onboard to be: "This is your pilot speaking. The flight has been rerouted to avoid flying over a Russian scissors factory. As passengers have not been checked for magnets, we want to avoid any possible covert scissors acquisitions. In addition, our new fancy-schmancy Protractor Recognition Device has warned that on our new route, we will pass over a truck carrying dangerously sharp protractors, so we will be flying slightly off-course. Any swaying back and forth of the plane is just a precaution to avoid proximity to sharp objects."

Airlines are also adding secure doors to cockpits to protect pilots and to deny entry to anyone but airline staffers. Wouldn't a pit bull be more effective?

Now we even have to worry about shoe bombs. Rather than checking our shoes through, however, I suggest we do something very Japanese. Leave your shoes at the doorway in a shoe locker, then put on plastic airline slippers. Wiggle your toes and relax.

Luckily, I didn't end up needing my scissors during my flight for self-protection or for offensive scissors moves. The plane arrived safely and on time without being rerouted. Now at my destination, I could finally retrieve my scissors. Except that I forgot to.

Bin Ladin, you weenie! You owe me a pair of scissors.

Contact Amy at amychavez2000@yahoo.com visit the "Japan Lite" home page at www.amychavez.com


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