Sunday, August 20, 2006

Riding on a Plane with Mohammed

I flew home the other day from NYC by way of JFK airport. Checking in, while confusing, was also fascinating. There must have been travelers from half of the countries on Earth in that terminal. A lot of international flights left from the one I was in. Trying to find my way to the correct counter check-in counter, I spoke to other confused travelers with myriad accents. I felt like an airport tourist.

After finally finding the correct line to wait in, I waited. The airport was using those new check-in computers to begin the process. Once you gave the computer your information, you waited for the check-in guy to call your name and give you your luggage tags. I waited some more. The check-in guy continued to call names. I paid no attention, until he called, "Mohammed ---- " Then I took notice. I looked at the young fellow who answered to that name. He looked to be somewhere in his late teens or early twenties. I immediately began to wonder, will he be heading to Dearborn, Michigan . . . on the same flight that I was heading home on?

If so, there wasn't much I could do, but I did scrutinize him. Did he look nervous? No. Angry? No. Determined? Only as determined as the rest of us were to get home. I looked at his baggage. He had three huge suitcases on one of those airport carts. You don't carry that much baggage if you are going to destroy the plane you're on - unless it's a clever ruse to get a bomb past security. There was plenty of room in all that luggage. It would be x-rayed though. And he didn't appear to be anxious in any of the ways described in the latest articles on spotting potential terrorists. So I continued on my way, getting checked in, and then choking down a crappy lunch before heading to my gate. (The food at Detroit Metro Airport has JFK food beat by a mile. Detroit has real restaurants and fast food joints, while at JFK, all you have is fast food. To be in New York and to only have those crappy choices is absurd. The JFK officials should check out Detroit and make some changes).

I didn't see Mohammed again until I was at the baggage claim at Detroit Metro. He had already gathered his bags and was meeting his ride. I wasn't sure how I missed seeing him on my flight, but somehow I did. Since I had already decided he wasn't a terrorist I didn't give it much thought.

You may ask though, don't I feel like a racist? or an islamophobe? Absolutely not. I know that not all Muslims are terrorists. It is a fact that every plane that has been hijacked or blown up, and every foiled attempt at the same has come from the Muslim community. Call me names if you wish, but as long as the Muslim community does nothing to help with the terrorist problem, and continues to make up lame excuses for terrorists coming out of their mosques, I will always be on my guard at airports.

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At 7:45 AM, Blogger TheFalafelDiaries said...

Interesting post. I offten get weird looks too from people when I board planes due to my looks.
I think it's unfair but I guess judging by a person's appearance is all we have..


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