“Thank you for participating in security.” I read that sign at O'Hare recently, just before going through the dehumanization that is airport security. I applaud the author, who somehow managed to cram three outrageous lies into a single sentence. Let's deconstruct.
"Thank you." Neither the TSA nor its employees truly appreciate our willingness to walk barefoot across a chlamydia-encrusted concourse before posing with our hands over our heads for our full-body nude photo.
"Participating." Wait. This is optional? I can choose to not participate? Fantastic. Next time, please point me toward the entrance that allows me to do none of these things.
"Security." To quote The Hound from Game of Thrones, "There is no safety." Which may or may not be true, but there have been too many moments of bored college students hacking this inefficient turd of a system for me to think I'm being saved from anything except for making my plane on time.
The sign would be more accurate if it had read: “Ha ha, you've been subjected to bureaucracy.”
I'd like to think it's not malicious, the way we lie as adults. Maybe it's a symptom of getting older. Of growing up and having our honesty muffled at every turn. Yesterday, I was sitting with our middle child, the 2 ½-year-old who thinks everything in life is funny. Past us walks an older gentleman with hair that may or may not have been inspired by Bill Murray in Kingpin.
Naturally, Reid starts laughing. And he cannot stop.
Once the fellow is out of earshot, I ask the boy. "What were you laughing at?" He calms a bit, but keeps laughing. "Was it his hair?" I ask. "Yeah," he says, before convulsing into another round of giggles.
"We don't laugh at other people like that, Reid," I say. Since I am a horrible person, I had to bite the inside of my mouth to keep from laughing along with him.
The truth is, we laugh at each other ALL THE TIME, even if we don't do it on purpose. One Christmas mass not that many years ago, I almost choked to death because the priest leading services talked in a way that some lizard part of my brain found truly hilarious. Granted, church giggles. But still.
What kind of world would we live in if I'd been honest in the moment and just laughed along with him? I wouldn't have pointed or anything, just laughed with my son at the man with the funny hair.
Probably a world that's a little bit meaner, a little more callous, than this one. But how do you teach impulse control to a kid when you have so many of the same impulses? Should I have said, "Reid, what you need to do is bite your tongue. This is not a euphemism. I mean really clamp down on it. Hard."
To the man who passed us, know that you reminded at least one of the children sitting on that bench of a lesson. That looking at things with kinder eyes can probably keep the lizard brain asleep.
Alan has three sons and he writes about fatherhood (read: exploits his children), trying to turn boys into good men and his hatred for Caillou at alwaysjacked.com. His writing has also appeared at Families in the Loop, The Good Men Project, ThirtyMag and Pregnancy Magazine.
See more of Alan's stories here.
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