Random Selection

Is there anything more irritating than hearing the same funny line over and over again and be expected to laugh? You know statements like: “I am on a seafood diet, whenever I see food I eat it”, or “you don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps”, or “Enough about me, let’s talk about you for a bit, what do YOU think of my suit?” You get the idea.


When this kind of line is an official one delivered by all employees, it digs so deep into my soul. US Airways used to have (I hope they have stopped now) their cabin crew give you the standard instructions before take off and landing which always ended with the line: “we never forget that US Airways begins with U”. The one that really got under my skin more than any was both unfunny and sinister in the extreme.

Post 2001 when security measures were tightened all over the world, no complaint there, US airports led the way in this regards, no complaints there either. However, there must have been a directive to all airports to single out people from the Middle East for extra security checks. In spite of the fact I am a British passport holder but, with a very foreign sounding name and with not so Anglo Saxon complexion, I was singled out for extra security checks on no less than three successive occasions. The people I travelled with were also selected, or not, based on their names and looks. On each occasion, the security officer would take one look at my face and another look at my passport and utter the following stupid words: “congratulations sir, you have been randomly selected for special security measures”.  Again, being innocent, I had no problem being examined thoroughly.

I don’t know what the people in authority thought they would achieve by having their staff deliver this line. It is not positive, reassuring, humorous or anything other than offensive and irritating. How was I supposed to react? Smile, laugh, pump my fist, or say something equally unfunny like: “Congratulations! I am an undercover journalist investigating airport security; I have illegal stuff on my person and you got me fair and square”?

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