Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Airport Stories

A Lack of Trust
Some time ago I was going through security at the airport and I noticed a man wearing a belt and suspenders, which I found interesting for 2 reasons:
  1. That has to be a pain going through security. I do everything I can to minimize any hassles when being herded though security - slip-on shoes; put my keys and wallet in my bag; etc. I can't imagine having to take off suspenders and a belt.
  2. I have never seen that before. I have heard the saying "A belt-and-suspenders-solution", but I have never actually seen someone wear a belt and suspenders.
This made me think about the phrase "A belt-and-suspenders-solution". Normally this refers to doing more than is necessary to get a job done. But is that really what it should mean? I say no; after seeing it in practice, I have to say that I think belt-and-suspenders people have trust issues. They don't trust the belt to hold their pants up and they don't trust their suspenders to not give them a wedgie. Talk about issues.

Examples of the true belt-and-suspenders solution:
  • Washing your hands for 30 seconds with soap and immediately applying hand sanitizer - just in case the soap was actually bacterial hand-soap.
  • Having spies to spy on your spies.
  • Having a retina and fingerprint scanner protecting anything (this is also a sign that you have too much money).
You see a lack of style, I see a lack of trust.

How does the saying go? "Power corrupts; And a need for power makes people act like fools"?

Okay, that's not it... but maybe it should be.

The power I speak of is electricity to run personal electronics. Check this out:

That is a picture of a woman sitting in the middle of a corridor at the Baltimore Airport. And the picture doesn't even do justice to how much she was in the middle of the walkway (I hardly felt comfortable with the chance of her seeing me take the picture it I got closer). Why is she sitting there? Because for some reason the airport has an outlet in the middle of the floor and her iPhone needed to be charged.

I have been in her shoes before: a dead battery and no outlet. It is often hard to find an outlet at an airport - these buildings were built before all of our mobile devices required constant charging. 15 years ago there wasn't all that much that you took with you to the airport that needed an outlet. I know I've sat in strange places to charge a computer or iPhone, but right in the middle of everything... that is pushing it.

However, the bigger issue is what it says about the value we place on our electronics. My guess is there is not much that people - this woman included - would sit on the filthy ground for in the middle of a busy airport for. Most people's pride wouldn't let them do it. But apparently when it comes to staying connected, pride goes out the window. I have even seen people sit in the bathroom to just for access to an outlet. But then again, maybe it is not so crazy. After all, for centuries people have not been able to live if they have to spend a few hours without an iPhone, right?

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