I’m a Security Risk

PhoneThe tall blonde blue-suited airport security worker keeps looking down at his screen and up at my face in suspicion, “So you work for who?” I try to explain my different jobs as a citizen journalist, but he only seems to listen to half of what I say. From the very first question he has shot me looks of disapproval, of my job, of my nationalities, of my travel habits… to him there is something wrong with me. He goes on to ask what I find to be excessively personal questions about who my friends are and who I live with, which I politely refuse to answer. He calls over another man who is near the gate, watching all the pre-boarding interviews for passengers on their way to the US. This man, obviously a supervisor, looks at me, looks at his paper, and starts writing me up for a “full” security check. As the two men start to take me away from the gate the supervisor says “Sir, you’ll have to go for further security checks, your life is just too complicated for us.”

His words, and their faces, as a large part of my life lay before them, reminded me of a simple truth: I walk a different path, A very different path. And that path doesn’t fit easily into the boxes on a form, as so much of our lives are supposed to. When you don’t walk the familiar line, give the typical answers, you’re more often condemned then welcomed.

That’s not to say my path is miserable burden. I didn’t mean to lead you in that direction. Indeed I what I do brings me a great deal of joy and wonder, and yes, I would even say more appreciation then rejection.

Still there I am, heading to the basement of Schiphol airport to have every inch of my body and belongings searched. What are these strangers who barely look me in the eye searching for? Any easy way to understand my life perhaps? Something that makes sense to them, perhaps? Whatever it is, I’m not sure they ever find it. Some may get it, some may learn, adapt, and recognize something they never understood before. A different way of doing things that has value, in some form of another. Then again, some people never learn anything. The world goes on repeating some mistakes over and over, and the innocent suffer.

As the great street philosopher and drug dealer Poot once explained, “World going one way, people another yo.”


  1. July 9, 2011

    You have my sympathies. But I do remember your explanations of your role were somewhat elaborate. Maybe time to develop a more concise version?

  2. July 9, 2011

    are you well? did they stayed with something? does mommy nat knows?
    hoping to see you soon

  3. July 10, 2011

    Yes, time to work on your elevator pitch. “I am a freelance journalist and I do a lot of work for American NGO’s to help spread free speech as a trainer. It takes me all over the world. “

  4. July 10, 2011

    Welcome to the ‘Profiled’ club 🙂

  5. @Tarak hows the food at the schiphol detention center? should i smuggle in some salt? @Koen Ok Ill work on my pitch. but these dudes need to tone down the oppression of obviously nice boys like me. @mj esta tudo bem. a mãe sabe sim. Eu venho aí em Setembro! @Jeremy somehow Im suspicious of my own story as I tell it.

  6. July 14, 2011

    Amazingly written Mark, you have a new follower. About the content, exactly, try explaining to people you’re living a life not so conventional. They think you’re crazy. Or will lock you up. Both, if they have the so called power and are having a bad hair day. While they would absolutely do the same if it wasn’t for fear of the unknown. And that’s exactly another thing that makes the world go round.

    • bicyclemark
      July 14, 2011

      Hi Joles. thanks for the comment.. I pleased to have your words on here. I often think part of handling these moments is to be zen.. not get angry. But alas.. I get very very angry even if I dont let it out in person… I think it shows in my eyes. Or red cheeks.

  7. Wozzybear
    July 18, 2011

    This made me chuckle – keep walking your own path Mark. It’s part of what keeps you objective.

    • bicyclemark
      July 20, 2011

      Thank you buddy. My best to you and the family.

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