I’m hyper-sensitive

Dances With Words
I’m hyper-sensitive

  To drugs? No. As far as my past-experiences tell me, there are no drugs that I’ve ever had a negative reaction to. To getting lost when in a strange situations or foreign setting? No. I seem to be able to get out of challenging situations like Houdini or find my way home like a homing pigeon. Sensitive to  or threatened by gluten, alcohol or public-speaking? Nope! My favourite foods are bread, baguettes, kaiser buns, cakes and pies. Alcohol? I’m as close to being a teetotaler as Lyman Beecham. Public-speaking? Some people say that ‘I’ for ‘Impromptu’ is my middle initial.

            So what am I hyper-sensitive to? Any passenger’s unusual behaviour in an airliner is what I’m hyper-sensitive to. It makes my antennae perk up, and causes my alarm bells to sound. However, I’m perfectly at ease with any airliner’s whines, clunks, thumps, buzzes, screeches and roars.

            Why so? I spent four days as one of many extras in a grounded Douglas DC-10. It was being used as a set for a series of anti-terrorism, anti-hijacking training films. We were instructed to react just as real passenger in a real airliner on a real flight – during which things were about to go wrong, very wrong. Objects that were potentially grenades, guns, knives were to be brought into action. All of we extras were told to act as if it were a real, possibly horrific situation.

            Unfortunately, the first simulation got off a bad start. A would-be hijacker leapt out of his seat, brandishing a gun. His face was masked. He crazily shouted out orders in a completely unintelligible foreign tongue. None of us role-playing passengers screamed, cowered or cried.

            The director shouted, “Cut! Cut! Cut! Hey folks, if somebody dressed in a baklava threatens to blow up the plane, would you just do nothing? In the next take, do something! C’mon, react!”

            My seat mate and I were barely able to contain our giggles. Both of us knew the difference between a ‘baklava’ and a ‘balaclava’.

            Before the next day’s shoots, I went to a Turkish bakery to buy the best baklava I could find. I presented it to him, saying nothing but, “Here’s a treat for you!”  He was puzzled, but took it, then went on with his briefing.

            Those four days taught me to suspect every elderly man, swarthy teen, agitated wanderer and argumentative passenger. Every unattended bag or suitcase could contain a weapon. Every bulging pocket could mean trouble.

            That’s why I tingled with suspicion when I saw that stout older woman, dressed head-to-toe in black, including a black hijab, having a heated argument with the young airline ticket agent and the tall, dark, well-dressed man who inserted himself between them. Was this a terrorist ruse to get a bomb or weapon aboard?

            I felt guilty at not reporting it. If you see something, say something, do something!

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