Socks (122/365)

by Lee Santiva May. 02, 2019 350 views
Socks and one sandal at baggage claim Chicago O'Hare international arrivals

Socks and one sandal at baggage claim Chicago O'Hare international arrivals

When I saw this topic on the 365 challenge calendar about 2 weeks ago, I dreaded it. I didn't think I would have anything interesting to say, socks are so boring.

Boy, was I wrong.

The most well-known and awful part about flying is having to go through the security check and spending what feels like hours in the process. You end up standing in your socks in a long line while all of your possessions move away from you in little grey bins on a conveyor belt.

In 2001 a terrorist tried to blow up a plane with a bomb in his shoe and ever since air travellers have had to take off their shoes and send them through the XRay machine.

There's no way to capture the masses of people all standing in their socks since all the camera equipment is going through an XRay. Thus, I decided to take pictures once we arrived at the baggage claim with just my iphone.

There were lots of travellers wearing socks with slip-on shoes like sandals, which makes sense since it's faster to take your shoes on and off.

Photo #1 intrigues me - it's my favorite "story" although the photo is blurred. I'd love to know how this guy lost his sandal on the flight from Frankfurt to Chicago. It seems where ever I travel, I tend to notice the weird stories. But this blog is long because it doesn't stop with other people's stories - today, I have my own story to tell.

Socks and crocs - so very not Germany's next top model...

Socks and crocs - so very not Germany's next top model...

Our vacation started with the hassle of my boarding card not being printed for online check-in. This meant we had to wait in line at the ticket counter to only then find out the real reason why: I had been “randomly” selected for the extra-special security check.

Extra-special security check at the Frankfurt airport means I was personally escorted to an isolated section and in the process by-passing many miserable people standing in a long line. I tried to tell myself it's like getting the VIP treatment and it just may be faster. Ahem. No, it is not.


What kind of artificial intelligence algorithm could possibly chose me as Germany's Next Top Terrorist*? I'm an older, white, grey-haired woman with arthritis - why me? How could I be threatening? and what ever happened to ethnic profiling?

Socks and sandals at O'Hare international arrivals

Socks and sandals at O'Hare international arrivals

This isn't the first time I've had extra-special security treatment and just a few months ago I was talking to a colleague at work, Mohamed, who was born in Egypt and is about 32 years old, whether he gets special security checks given his name and country of birth and everything: no.

I cannot believe it. Not even on the way to the US. Now, don't get me wrong, Mohamed is a great guy and we work together well and all...but, to be honest and I think you'd all agree, he definitely looks more like a terrorist than me ...

So what is extra-special security like? There are 5 people exclusively dedicated to me to find anything on me or in my possessions and they all apply multiple means to test and find out. There are still the bins and the X- Ray but they also patted me down and questioned me about the contents of my hand luggage like my medications (“and that powder, sir , is called pro-biotics, I have stomach issues and it helps with digestion...”)

At the end, they didn't find anything and I had the fun of putting everything back into my bags and could finally put my shoes back on. I really needed them now because I had to run for my flight after spending sooooo much time in security.

To think, I actually believed that I would have nothing to say about something as boring as socks....


*This is a play on words: there is a local TV series called Germany's Next Top Model which is hosted by Heidi Klum.

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Camellia Staab 1 year, 11 months ago

In my travels I have been on both sides of the spectrum, the extra security and the VIP of the TSA, both at random. As you said who knows how this algorithm works, but I guess that is the point. How long are you going to be in Chicago? I was going to go up there yesterday but the rain and cold made me change my mind. I would love to meet up with you. BTW I am in Springfield and if you haven't been here, it's a good reason to visit....supposed to be sunny this weekend and I have lots of room. smile

1 year, 11 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Camellia Staab 1 year, 11 months ago

Fun, isn't it? I suppose the algorithm gives you more "points" the more you travel, but an intelligent algorithm would weigh "terrorist" countries more heavily but I have never travelled in the Middle East or Africa, so I really don't get it.

BTW, we're out in the suburbs of Chicago right now and plan to go downtown next week for the "vacation" part of the trip.

1 year, 11 months ago Edited
Camellia Staab Replied to Lee Santiva 1 year, 11 months ago

Well just so you know it's 3.5 hour drive down to the capital by car and 4 + by train ( train's never on time). It's not a bad place for photography, lots of Lincoln stuff and the museum is definitely a site to see.😊

1 year, 11 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Camellia Staab 1 year, 11 months ago

thanks for the travel tips! maybe next time we’ll explore elsewhere. we’re looking forward to a Cubs game this weekend

1 year, 11 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Camellia Staab 1 year, 11 months ago

wow that’s a great offer to meet up. that would be really cool!!! We fly back Sun May 12 and are geographically bound to Chicago area due to family commitments. Let’s take the details offline perhaps we can work something out. Email is [email protected]

1 year, 11 months ago Edited
Björn Roose 1 year, 11 months ago

I have travelled only very few times by plane. Two times actually (going to and coming back from Budapest). One of those two times ended by a friend of mine, sharing the same suitcase (cause that was cheaper) being threatened with machine guns by customs people who had no idea about what that "thing" in our luggage was.

And I have travelled only very few times by Chunnel. Two times actually (going to and coming back from England of course). One of those two times ended in my car getting a full scan (apparently mine was the only one getting that special treatment) and me being threatened with machine guns by customs people who had no idea about what that "thing" on my backseat was.

So, I can pretty much relate to your story, despite the fact that I didn't need to take my shoes off ... smile

1 year, 11 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Björn Roose 1 year, 11 months ago

Crossing the iron curtain during the 80's _everybody_ got the special machine gun security treatment - I guess it was the communist philosopy, right? everyone is equal. That was somehow "normal" at the time. Nowadays its just hysterics, it used to be water was evil now its powders.... smile  Thanks for sharing your stories I enjoyed to hear its not just me

1 year, 11 months ago Edited
Björn Roose Replied to Lee Santiva 1 year, 11 months ago

The iron curtain was long gone when I got that treatment. It was in 2006 ... smile

1 year, 11 months ago Edited
Bob Rosenberg 1 year, 11 months ago

Meanwhile, what are you doing in Chicago?  I grew up there.  Now living in California, I like to say that Chicago is a nice place to be FROM.  smile

1 year, 11 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Bob Rosenberg 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm visiting relatives in the Chicago area, not so much a "real" vacation especially because the weather is cold and rainy

1 year, 11 months ago Edited
Bob Rosenberg Replied to Lee Santiva 1 year, 11 months ago

And flat.  After growing up in Chicago, when I first saw California's mountains and hills, I just fell in love with them.  Almost 50 years later, I still marvel at their beauty every day.

1 year, 11 months ago Edited
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