Wednesday, 6 July 2016

It’s all about security dontcha know?

We recently had an opportunity to attend Toruk, a Cirque du Soleil show, at the Canadian Tire Centre, our local NHL arena, home of the Ottawa Senators.

What promised to be a fun night got off to a bad start when I was intercepted by security and told that the keychain penknife I had on my keychain (of course) was prohibited and would be confiscated unless I took it back to the car. We’re not talking about a switchblade or a straight razor; it’s a small penknife with a 1” blade, a nail file, scissors, and a toothpick. After voicing my displeasure somewhat strenuously (for which I later apologized as she was only following the rules) I trudged back out to the car to deposit said weapon of mass destruction. And it’s not the value – Lee Valley Tools sells them as “losable knives”, which perhaps should be renamed as “confiscatable knives”, or “TSA specials” at $3 apiece – but I’d had this particular knife for quite a while and, before 9/11, it had travelled the world with me.

What damage they thought I could do in an arena of 10,000 people with a 1” blade escapes me – it’s not like I could demand the building be flown to Cuba, or Trump campaign headquarters. Perhaps they thought I was a latter day MacGyver, able to control an arena full of hardcore Cirque fans with nothing more than a belt buckle, shoelace, and a 6 inch stiletto heel taken from the lady preceding me through the security screen. Or maybe not.

No, this is all about the “appearance” of security, and that’s what drives me crazy. We are being increasingly subjected to arbitrary intrusions and humiliations (other than the screeners, who enjoys a full body scan?) that result from political kneejerk reactions to overstated threats. And every bit of attention focused on this sort of nonsense is another bit of attention that isn’t being focused on identifying real security threats like the guy who, one day, is going to go postal on being told a glass of crap beer at the CTC is $12 – take it or leave it.

But it all turned out okay in the end. The show was an amazing display of physicality, staging, and lighting, and we enjoyed it immensely. We had an opportunity to reconnect with some old friends. And my penknife was waiting for me in the car when we left. (Sorry security people – this is one penknife you’re not getting – yet.) It’s all good.


  1. See, they have seen the MacGyver potential in you, Danger Dave! Similar happened to me on my flight to Canada last year: I had to let go of my Swiss knife credit card manicure set. I possibly could have wreaked havoc on the plane with the miniature content. Anyhow, that's what it is these days. Glad the show made up for this nuisance.

  2. So true, and at airport security you don't have any option but to give up the item. The lack of consistency is also frustrating: in many places up to a 3 inch blade is acceptable. I have a "survival kit" which is a 2 inch blade with lots of tools, which I always carry in the car to cut seat belts if necessary and which I don't want to lose. But I can't carry it on aircraft even though TSA now says a 2 inch blade is acceptable, because someone with a different opinion (or less training) could always demand to have it "put in the box". :-(

  3. Silly rules could drive law abiding people to do silly things. Like carrying well hidden tools. A special ceramic and plastic things that don't scan. No necessarily doing, just saying....

    ps. going to parliament hill on canada day, my 2" swiss army camping knife (blade and tweezers is main stuff) was held in an evidence bag while I mingled with the good people around the stage and ring of fire (eternal flame). Not to go inside parliament but on the grass. And one of the security guys had an ak-47 type assault rifle in his hand.

  4. Well, geez. And didn't you feel more secure?

  5. David you hit the nail on the head. There is a real risk of missing real threats while wasting time on silly minutiae.


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