The terrorists have won

September 28, 1995|By H. H. Morris

The blond, about 35 years old, 5-foot-4 and heavier than she'd admit, entered the drug store as the security alarm sounded. The resultant charge by the assistant manager would have looked heroic if he'd weighed 40 pounds more, possessed a need for two razor blades a month and faced a genuine opponent.

A clerk apologized to the blond. The assistant manager burned the soles off his athletic shoes, stopping short of where I stood on the tile floor. I didn't get caught.

I activated the security system. My angle was 45 degrees. I crashed a computer system at the same angle. I proved what I can do to electronic toys by making my granddaughter's crib monitor sing a squeaky aria while moving around at a 45-degree angle to the speaker.

Card-carrying ICDer

The card rides in my wallet. It says in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese, ''I have an implanted cardioverter defibrillator [ICD] that may set off your metal detection device.''

I can't enter a courtroom without my card. I can't board an airplane unless I undergo an invasive personal check after showing the card. I can't meet a friend or relative at the airport unless we arrange a rendezvous well clear of where free citizens can greet arriving passengers. If I have no ticket, I have no reason to hassle the cretins who operate security devices.

Airport and courtroom security I understand -- although it's the lack of courtesy that rankles. The drug store I don't. I'd like to think the establishment wants my occasional business. Its clerks, although inefficient, are polite. But that charging assistant manager with the squeaky athletic shoes makes me nervous.

I know of no other retail establishment in the same area with such elaborate security devices. And while the assistant manager doesn't impress me as Mike Tyson's future challenger -- he's barely 20 and I'm closing out my sixth decade -- must I really depend on my left hook (fairly good 40 years ago) to defend myself from his headlong attack?

I avoid flying. I was in Kansas City on family business shortly after Desert Storm. There I watched the security guards make an elderly lady crawl through their tunnel. Her crime was showing up with a walker, which has apparently been classed as a deadly weapon by the same U.S. Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents who brought us the siege at Waco.

Security fever

The terrorists have won. Shoplifters should hit a liquor store to cater their victory celebration. It is bad that a citizen can no longer enter a court of law or board a plane without a security check. It is worse that the average American can no longer drive past the White House, where a man who purports to represent us occasionally lives. Worst of all is that a citizen must now pass through security to fill a prescription or buy razor blades.

I assume the blond lady got soothed. I haven't heard of a lawsuit in the weeks since the incident occurred. If she files, though, I'm a witness. Meanwhile, I think I'll go set off more security devices simply for the fun of it. I owe that to the great, great, great, great granddaddy who froze his toes and gonads at Valley Forge.

H. H. Morris writes from Aberdeen.

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